Navigating the Delicate Terrain: Things to Say to Someone Going Through a Mental Health Crisis
As a licensed social worker, I understand the importance of offering support and guidance to individuals facing a mental health crisis. When interacting with someone experiencing such a crisis, it is crucial to remain empathetic, compassionate, and patient. Here are some key phrases and ideas to help you provide support and reassurance during these difficult moments.
1. “I’m here for you.”
Let the person know that they are not alone. Express your availability, both physically and emotionally, to provide support. This simple statement can be incredibly powerful in assuring someone that they have a shoulder to lean on and someone to listen to their concerns.
2. “I care about you.”
Sometimes people going through a mental health crisis might feel as if nobody cares or understands their pain. Letting the individual know that you genuinely care about their well-being helps create a sense of safety and trust. This statement provides reassurance that they are valued and not alone in their struggles.
3. “It’s okay to feel this way.”
Validate their emotions by acknowledging that it is normal to experience feelings of distress, anger, sadness, or fear during a crisis. Avoid attempting to dismiss or minimize their emotions. Instead, show acceptance of their feelings, emphasizing that it is a natural part of the healing.
4. “You don’t have to go through this alone.”
Encourage the person to seek professional help. As a supportive friend or family member, there is only so much you can do. A mental health professional is trained to provide appropriate coping strategies, therapy, and, if needed, medication management. Encourage them to reach out for help and let them know you will support them in finding the appropriate resources.
5. “Take your time.”
In a mental health crisis, it is essential to give the person the time and space they need to process their emotions. Avoid pressuring them to “snap out of it” or “get over it.” Instead, emphasize that healing is a journey that takes time and patience.
6. “What can I do to help?”
Offer specific forms of assistance that might alleviate some of the burden they are facing. This could include helping with daily tasks, offering to find mental health resources, or simply being there to listen. By asking how you can help, you are giving the person a sense of control and agency in their situation.
7. “You’re not a burden.”
When someone is going through a mental health crisis, they may feel guilty or believe they are causing trouble for those around them. Reassure them that their feelings and experiences are not a burden on you or anyone else. Emphasize that you are there to help and support them in their journey towards healing.
8. “You are strong and resilient.”
Remind the person of their inner strength and resilience. This can help foster a sense of hope and confidence that they can overcome their current challenges. Share examples of times when they have faced adversity and emerged stronger.
9. “You matter.”
People in crisis can often feel hopeless or like they don’t matter. Reiterate the importance of their life and existence, emphasizing their unique qualities and the positive impact they have on others.
Approaching someone going through a mental health crisis requires empathy, patience, and compassion. Keep these phrases in mind when offering support, but remember that every individual’s experience is unique. Tailor your approach to their specific needs, and most importantly, be a consistent presence in their life as they navigate the complex road to recovery.
Claudia Coxx, MSW, LMSW
248-860-2024 Ext. 505
Office Hours: Tu 3p-6p, W-Th 11a-7p; Fri 11a-5p; Sat 10a-1p