What is a mental health crisis?
Street Therapists do not provide crisis intervention and are not positioned to field crisis calls. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, we encourage you to call 911 or to go to the nearest hospital. It's okay to ask for help during a mental health crisis or when experiencing fear of harm to self or others.
Signs that you or someone you love needs help
- Suicidal thoughts and statements such as “I want to die,” "I really can't handle my life and I need to die," or even possible vague statements such as “I don’t want to be here anymore
- Are experiencing violent thoughts, hallucinations or delusions
- Making threats to others or themselves
- Having a plan for suicide
What are you experiencing and observing
- Are you or your loved one talking about feeling trapped, hopeless, and experiencing unbearable pain?
- Feeling like you have no purpose in life and think life will never get better?
- Increased substance use and experiencing sudden significant mood changes?
- Are not feeling yourself?
- Isolating from family, friends or activities?
- Feeling like you might hurt yourself or someone?
- Having preoccupations with death, dying or violence?
When you call 911
When you call 911 or crisis services, make sure to let them know that this is a mental health emergency as that may trigger them to send someone who is trained in a mental health crisis. You may also want to ask if they have a crisis team that does welfare driveby checks as they will be trained to intervene in similar situations. Try to give the person you talk to as many details as you can about what specifically is happening and any other background information you feel may be important.
How to manage until help arrives
Here are a few words and tips to help you de-escalate the situation until help arrives.
- Do not leave the person alone, stay with them but try not to restrict their movement.
- Try to stay calm, speak slowly, and do not raise your voice or talk too fast.
- Remove potentially dangerous items, if possible.
- Let them know you care and that they are not alone.
- Ask directly about their feelings, even if it seems awkward.
- Listen actively and respectfully. Do not argue or challenge even if what they are saying seems unreasonable or outrageous to you.
- Do not be patronizing or judgmental. Don't say statements like, "Things can be worse" or "What are you feeling bad for, you have a great life."
- Use reassuring and empathic language such as, "I’m here. I care. I want to help," "I may not know what you are going through, but I want to help." or "Let's try to figure this out together."
- Realize you may have trouble communicating with them. Ask simple questions such as "What's causing you to feel so bad?" or "How can I help?"
- Try not to take their actions or comments personally.
- Offer to help take steps to get assistance and support such as calling a crisis line.
- The increased intensity of the situation can sometimes make it more difficult for us to hide our own fears or opinions so do your best to stay calm.
- Don’t handle the crisis alone if you have people who can support you such as family, friends, neighbours, people from your place of spirituality, or people from a local support group
- Don’t threaten to call 911 unless you intend to. When you call 911, police and/or an ambulance are likely to come to your house. This may make your loved one more upset, so use 911 only when you or someone else is in immediate danger.
When you call or text crisis lines.
When you text CONNECT to 686868, you will be connected to a trained Crisis Responder. It is free and available across Canada and is offered in English and French.
If you identify as Indigenous and require immediate help, you can call 1-855-242-3310 or use the online chat through hopeforwellness.ca. It is free and the service is available in English and French. You can also request to speak in Cree, Ojibway or Inuktitut languages.