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First Aid in a mental health crisis.

Some strategies to help if you are dealing with a person in distress.
Sarah Miller. Area Family Services Advisor.

First Aid in a Mental Health Crisis.

Assess risk of suicide or self harm.

Ask questions.

“Do you feel suicidal?”

“Have you felt this way before?”

“Do you have a plan?” *

“What has helped you in the past?”

“To whom do you normally speak when you feel this way?”

“What help would you like from me?”

 *Asking, do you feel suicidal? will not increase the risk of suicide. If someone is suicidal and they have no support system in place, you can call the police.

Listen non-judgmentally.

Often people in a crisis need to know that someone is willing to listen.

After you have listened, you can then offer help.

Give reassurance and information.

Something like

“I have heard you tell me about x y and z, this is the help that I can offer you.”

Be clear, gentle and precise.”

Encourage the person to seek professional help.


NHS Direct

Encourage self-help strategies.

Again ask about how they might usually deal with these feelings/issues.

Suggest friends/other support

Try and help them come up with their own solution, rather than imposing your own.

You can end the conversation by acknowledging the courage that it took for them to discuss these things with you and offer follow up if that feels appropriate.

If you are speaking with a child, you will need to let them know that if they disclose information about harm or danger to themselves or another, you will have to let a professional know about it, to protect them.

Remind them that you are not an expert and that you recommend professional help in all cases.

Then let it go. Talk it through with a trusted leader or friend if you are concerned.