There are many reasons why we should all become more aware of mental health issues. The nature of mental illness makes it widespread yet hard to detect. Lack of awareness enforces a stigma against sufferers, and thus people go untreated or undiagnosed, often until it’s too late – at which point many people are ill-prepared for how to properly respond to a crisis.
Anyone you know could be struggling in silence with mental illness, and the numbers may not be what you’d expect. For instance, depression is on the rise in Birmingham and the Black Country. 2016 figures show that about 1 in 12 adults suffers from this disorder. This is higher than in London itself, and trends point to a rapid increase.
Mental health emergencies should be prevented as much as possible. Keeping a sharp eye out for warning signs and being able to land a same-day appointment with your GP is critical. But sometimes preventive measures don’t cover everything, and we have to be prepared to deal with these situations.
Here are some measures that you and your loved ones can become more familiar with, in preparation for the possibility of a mental health emergency.
Draw up a plan of action
Mental illness is unpredictable. To the outside eye, everything can appear perfectly normal until the crisis starts. That is why it can be most helpful to have an action plan and brief your family, friends, and physician about it.
Your action plan can cover trigger signs – things that they should look out for, indicators that something isn’t right and you need help even though you aren’t asking for it. It may delineate responsibility and a hierarchy of communication, such as who should be notified or how soon should intervention take place.
The more people you involve, and especially if they aren’t closely involved with your situation, the more important it is to keep your action plan clear and concise. Make sure those involved know their roles, have your contact details and your doctor’s information, and so on.
In a mental health emergency, you can rapidly go from seeming fine to a downward spiral. You and the people you are likely to spend most of your time with should be able to recognise the warning signs and know what to do right away and take those steps without hesitation.
If you can, contact your doctor right away. If a friend or family member notices the signs, their role is to listen, give support, and keep watch over your condition while deciding whether it’s time to bring in expert help or call a crisis hotline. What matters most, though, is that when the time comes, action is quickly taken, and warning signs don’t pass by ignored.
The right support
Healthcare experts are vital to determining the right course of treatment, but the support you receive from your loved ones is essential to getting better. Recovering from a crisis can be start-stop, it can have highs and lows, and there’s always a danger of relapse.
During these difficult times, it’s important to have friends and family who will listen without judgment and work with the doctor to achieve better understanding and help manage your condition. Your loved ones should also take rest and therapy to ensure that they are approaching their roles as part-time caregivers in the right way.
Dealing with mental illness takes a team effort, so make sure that your closest friends and family are aware and prepared to help you overcome anything that might happen.