Learn the common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents.
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Recognizing that your child is experiencing a mental health crisis can be difficult. You may not be sure what constitutes a crisis situation versus a “bad day” or “phase.” You may feel scared — perhaps you feel unsure of how to protect your child. Combine this with navigating a complicated school and health care system and a lack of resources for people struggling with a mental health crisis, and it’s easy to feel discouraged.
Remember to trust your instincts. You are the expert on your child. Even in this complicated situation, the certainties are that you love them the most, you know them the best and you will do whatever is necessary to keep your child safe.
A mental health crisis is when your child is at risk of harming themselves or others, or if their emotions and behavior seem extreme and out of control.
Warning signs of mental health crisis may include:
Once you suspect that your child is in crisis, you will have some decisions to make. How you proceed depends on whether they are in immediate danger and the resources available in your community.
If you feel that your child’s life or someone else’s life is in danger, this is an emergency — you must take immediate action to keep everyone safe. Call 911 (or a local crisis line) or go to your nearest emergency room. Under no circumstances should you leave them alone.
If you are confident that your child is not at immediate risk, and that you can manage the situation, consider the following steps. Keep in mind that even if it’s not a physical “emergency,” it is still an urgent situation that should be addressed as quickly as possible.