fbpx When Is It a Mental Health Crisis?
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on April 29, 2021

We all have good and bad mental health days. When our mental health suffers, it affects our ability to think, feel, and act. But when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, it impacts their ability to function. Any one of us can experience a mental health crisis and those who have been diagnosed with an existing mental illness are at an even greater risk.

Recognizing when someone is in crisis is key to getting them the help they need quickly.

Signs of a mental health crisis can show up in a variety of ways and is different for every individual. A person in crisis may:

  • Have unpredictable behavior.
  • Have a hard time communicating their thoughts and feelings.
  • Be acting in a way that could lead to hurting themselves or others.

Often, a mental health crisis can be triggered by certain events such as job loss, school pressures, or a break-up; death of a loved one; financial insecurity; medication changes; physical, sexual, or verbal abuse; or trauma.

Mental Health Crisis Signs:

  • Rapid mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Confused thinking or irrational thoughts
  • Verbally stating, writing, or insinuating they’d like to hurt themselves or someone else
  • Talking about death or dying
  • Extreme energy or lack of energy
  • Changes in completion of daily tasks
  • Withdrawing from typically attended social situations
  • Changes in diet, not eating, or eating all the time
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Losing touch with reality

This list is not all inclusive, but if you or someone you know are experiencing any of these signs, this is the time to reach out for professional support. An expert can do an assessment and advise on what steps to take. The best thing to do is remain calm and contact a crisis hotline – such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911 if you are needing immediate, hands-on assistance. Many of these crisis hotlines are free and confidential, and can provide information on treatment options and support in your area.

No one is alone in experiencing a mental health crisis. Be prepared and know what resources can help you or a loved one when struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, or in a mental health crisis.

Mental Health Crisis Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call: 1-800-273-8255
Chat: suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline
Call: 800-950-6264
Text: “NAMI” to 741741


This blog article was contributed by Nicole Mucheck, Executive Director of Southeast Regional Crisis Center (SERCC) in Rochester, MN, opening in June 2021. Nexus Family Healing is the operating partner of SERCC.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.