The heart-wrenching experience of watching your child suffer from a mental breakdown can be both confusing and terrifying. As a parent, you’re programmed to protect your child and alleviate their pain, but when it comes to mental health crises, it might be challenging to know where to turn. This guide aims to provide clarity on who to call in such situations.
1. Immediate Danger: Call 911
If your child’s mental breakdown involves immediate threats to themselves or others, or if they’re engaging in risky behaviors, it’s essential to prioritize safety first. Call emergency services and explain the situation as calmly and clearly as possible.
2. Reach Out to a Mental Health Crisis Hotline
Many countries and regions offer crisis helplines dedicated to mental health emergencies. These helplines are staffed by professionals trained to provide immediate assistance. For instance, in the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7.
3. Contact Your Child’s Psychiatrist or Therapist
If your child is already seeing a mental health professional, it’s wise to contact them as soon as possible. They’ll be familiar with your child’s history and can offer guidance tailored to their specific needs.
4. Consult Your Pediatrician
Your child’s primary care provider or pediatrician can be a valuable resource. They can provide an initial assessment and direct you to appropriate mental health services.
5. Approach a Local Mental Health Clinic
If you’re unsure about where to start, a local mental health clinic can be a good stepping stone. These clinics often have professionals on hand to assist in crisis situations or can provide recommendations on the next steps.
6. School Counselor or School Psychologist
If the breakdown occurs during school hours or is related to school issues, reaching out to the school’s mental health team can be beneficial. They may provide immediate interventions or guide you on how to best support your child.
7. Lean on Your Support Network
In times of crisis, your personal support network, whether it’s close family, friends, or community groups, can offer assistance. They might provide recommendations, share personal experiences, or simply be there to listen.
Tips for Managing the Situation:
- Stay Calm: Your child will likely pick up on your emotions. Stay as calm and composed as possible, offering a reassuring presence.
- Listen Actively: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen. Avoid making judgments or interrupting, and show empathy and understanding.
- Secure the Environment: If possible, guide your child to a quiet, safe space free from potential triggers or hazards.
Witnessing your child go through a mental breakdown is undoubtedly distressing. However, it’s essential to remember that help is available. Whether it’s emergency services, mental health professionals, or your support network, resources exist to assist both you and your child. Taking timely action and approaching the situation with understanding and compassion can make all the difference.