Are you prepared to handle someone with a mental health crisis?

If your best friend called you up and said they want to end their life are you prepared to handle that situation?

Almost daily on one of the social media platforms you are likely to find someone asking for recommendations. Maybe they need someone to fix their AC unit, or they are looking for a good place to eat in a certain city. If you scroll through the comments you will find more than enough recommendations of who to call or where to go, and more often than not you will see a few names of who not to call or places not to go eat at. However when it comes to a mental health crisis situation not many people really know how to get someone help and they don’t really know what to even say to a person that is reaching out for help.

When I was a firefighter we received training on how to cut someone out of a smashed up car, and we would also practice things like how to search a burning building for trapped occupants. We knew what tools we had at our disposal and we were trained well on how to use them effectively and efficiently. As a firefighter not every situation was going to be the same, but with enough training and expertise we could typically develop an action plan to get done what we needed to get done.

As a kid in the 70’s and 80’s before everyone had a cell phone and before 911 became a thing people kept emergency numbers near the house phone. Should you need to summons the fire department or call the local sheriff the phone numbers were right there in plain view and easy to see. In addition to knowing who to call for an emergency many people are trained on CPR, in the event a person collapses in front of you, knowing CPR might be the difference in that person surviving or not making it.

Should we do the same for mental health emergencies? Should we be prepared in the event a loved one or your best friend since grade school calls you up out of the blue and says I am struggling, I need help? I have listened to many stories where someone reached out for help but no one really knew how to help them, they didn’t know what resources were available, if they did know of a local resource they may not of known how to properly utilize that resource. You can call the local doctor but more than likely you will get the typical response of we can schedule an appointment for 3 weeks from now. I am sorry but 3 weeks from now might be too late in some circumstances. When someone gets to the point of a mental health crisis where they reach out to you for help the time to act is now, time is of the essence. We should have a plan in place of who we can call for help in our local area.

Not knowing how I can help save a life in regards to a mental health situation really scares me, so I have signed up for a class that will give me some tools to help me should I ever receive a phone call from someone needing help. The training is called QPR. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer. It is training that anyone can take to better equip themselves to deal with someone who has become suicidal or someone that is struggling and has reached out to you for help. I am excited to receive this training so that I can better prepare myself should I find myself in a situation where I need to take action to help a person suffering from a mental health crisis.  Just like knowing CPR or first aid, this will be another tool in my tool box that may someday help me save a life.

I urge you to take some time and research who you can call should the need arise that you find yourself needing to help a friend or loved one who is struggling. Help to open the lines of communication so that we can remove the stigma that mental health is something scary and that it’s something that only the professionals can deal with.

Here is a link the QPR Institute where you can read up on how you can take advantage of some great training.

There are many resources available that deal with mental health awareness, we just need to know how to access them and we need to prepare ourselves of what to say to someone hurting and struggling.

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