Thanks to the efforts of suicide prevention organizations, we hear this statement often:
“If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, share the crisis hotline.”
But what exactly does it mean for someone to be in a crisis? What does it look like? And how can we better identify warning signs before the crisis stage?
According to social work experts, a mental health crisis refers to a person’s reaction to an event and not the specific situation. While it’s easy to narrow crises down to car accidents, natural disasters and other traumatic events, people respond to situations differently. A crisis for one person may not be a crisis for someone else. In other words, crises range in type and severity.
According to the Wellbeing Center, there are three types of crises.
1. Developmental crises
These types of crises occur as part of the process of growing and developing through various periods of life. Sometimes a crisis is a predictable part of the life cycle. Some common examples include moving away from home, having children, having children move out, getting let go from a job, sibling rivalries or other family issues.
2. Existential crises
Inner conflicts are related to things such as life purpose, direction and spirituality. A midlife crisis is one example of a crisis that is often rooted in existential anxiety. Other examples include losing a loved one, failure or fear of failing, or having negative thoughts about the meaning of life, perhaps feeling purposeless or insignificant.
3. Situational crises
These sudden and unexpected crises include accidents and natural disasters. Getting in a car accident, experiencing a natural disaster like a flood or earthquake, or being the victim of a crime are just a few types of situational crises.
Crisis warning signs
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in 2019 released a crisis guide, which shared the warning signs when someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis. They include:
- Having trouble with daily tasks
- Sudden or extreme changes in mood
- Increased agitation
- Abusive behavior to self (i.e. drinking or substance abuse) or others
- Symptoms of psychosis (i.e. hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there)
In the workplace, however, these behaviors might be difficult to detect, especially If your team is still working remotely.
Establishing connections and care
Throughout the pandemic, MyAdvisor has continued to work public, private and government entities on providing supportive holistic wellness services, including tele-mental health. From our experience, we’ve learned there are two critical elements when it comes to supporting employees in all stages of their mental health challenges — creating connections and caring.
Here are four easy ways to establish connections and care with employees:
- Routine check-ins: It is imperative that employers check in on their employees three to five times a week since many people are working remotely. This includes conversations about work as well as casual conversations. Establish a connection by getting to know them. This way, you’ll be able to easily identify warning signs if something changes.
- Video during meetings: Requiring employees to turn on their cameras during video calls is important because it helps to maintain human connection (direct eye contact, etc.).
- Mental health benefits: Employers should consider adding a broader mental health and wellness component to employee benefit packages and make their employees aware of these benefits.
- Sincerely showing you care: Reaching out is key to preventing a mental health crisis, but it’s important to show true sincerity. Don’t just start the conversation by asking, “how are you.” Instead, ask questions, listen and respond with thoughtful questions to show you care.
For far too long, we’ve seen too many people struggle with mental health issues alone because they didn’t have access to these types of services. I believe employers can be the answer. During the pandemic, we learned how much influence employers can have. According to Forrester survey, employees trust their employers as a source of information about COVID-19 and the coronavirus more than they trust governments and social media sites. In other words, companies became essential in delivering information as a trusted source.
Make it a priority to educate all team members about mental health and the warning signs to look for. If you haven’t already, consider adding mental health services to your employee benefits — and remember to establish meaningful connections and care.