What do I do in a crisis?

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If the family member with a mental illness is:
  • in danger of physical injury,
  • out of control,
  • talking about suicide,
  • posing a threat to the safety of other persons,
...you need to know what steps to take.

Contact 9-1-1 or the DuPage County Crisis Line at (630) 627-1700.
Consult ahead of time with a mental health professional or with the Behavioral and Mental Health Services of the DuPage County Health Department (Access and Crisis Center 630-627-1700) so that you will know how to obtain services when you need them. Keep a list of important information by the telephone. For more information, see the list of NAMI state affiliates, DuPage County Health Dept. services, and hospitals that treat individuals with mental illness in the Chicagoland area, please refer to our Handbook in the “Learn More” section of “Education".

Watch for early warning signs.
Occasionally, everyone has a bad day. If you sense a deterioration in a relative's mental condition, try to find out what is going on. There are usually early warning signs that signal problems, such as: changes in sleep or social activities, increasing hostility or suspiciousness.  Try to get the family member with a mental illness to see a psychiatrist or social worker. The objective is to avert a crisis.

Have the family member's medical information on hand.
If you should need to phone for help, have with you written information about the family member's diagnosis, medications, and the specific event or behavior that caused you concern. It may be useful to have several copies to give to the police and to mental health professionals.

Remember, no one is at fault in a mental health crisis.
Family members may be at a loss as to how to react when someone they love is in crisis.  Remember that the illness is no one's fault, nor is it the fault of the person who is in crisis.  Most mental illnesses are considered to be biochemical disorders of the brain diagnosed by their symptoms.

For suicide, a nation-wide resource is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Link: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/Default.aspx

Some things that you can do in a crisis are:

  • Evaluate the situation.  If you feel there is a danger to any person, either call the Access and Crisis Center (630-627-1700) for help in assessing the seriousness of the situation or seek assistance from local law enforcement officers.
  • Call your local NAMI support group for assistance with taking these steps.
  • If your relative is seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not real, do not argue, deny or reason with him at this time.  Instead, assure him that you love him, understand that what he is experiencing is real to him, and that you want to help him.

For more information, please refer to our Handbook in the “Learn More” section of “Education”

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