What You Need to Know About a Mental Health Crisis

Jul 26, 2019 | Blog

A few months ago, a relative of mine died by suicide. It was a shock to the entire family, who didn’t realize she was going through a crisis. They missed the signs. Had her family and friends known, they could have urged her to get help.

Unfortunately, there are many cases similar to this. In the United States alone, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15 – 34 and one of the top 10 causes of death for all age groups from age 10 and up.

Today’s post will identify the what and how of a crisis and what to do when you or a loved one experiences one. The best advice is, when available, take a Mental Health First Aid Class for youth and/or adults (mentalhealthfirstaid.org)  Until you have the opportunity, here is important information.

At the end you can see a few photos from our recent ribbon cutting at our new Coleman Crisis Services.  It is located at 2421 13th St. NW, Canton, OH 44708 and is open 24/7 for crisis support.

What is a Mental Health Crisis?

A crisis is any situation where a person’s actions and behaviors may lead them to hurt themselves or others. It can also be a situation where they are not caring for themselves or are exhibiting unhealthy behavior. Individuals with a diagnosed mental illness are at higher risk compared to those without one. Please remember that a crisis is temporary – but if it isn’t handled correctly, it can lead to life-altering events.

Triggers that might lead to this type of crisis include:

  • Conflicts with loved ones
  • Exposure to trauma or violence or
  • Increased home, work, or school stressors

What are the Signs?

An individual may exhibit a mental health crisis in one or more of the following ways:

  • Cannot complete their daily tasks
  • Talk or write about killing themselves or others
  • Withdraw from social situations with friends and family
  • Show impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Exhibit a dramatic shift in mood
  • An increase in substance abuse
  • Unrealistic or excessive anxiety or guilt
  • Giving away prized possessions
If you are concerned that someone is suicidal, ask the following questions:
  • Are you thinking of killing yourself?
  • Do you have a plan?
  • Have you taken any steps to secure the things you would need?

While some fear that asking about it may plant the idea, the fact is that if  a person is contemplating ending their life, it is already on their mind.  You will not put it there.  If you get positive answers to any of the above questions, DO NOT LEAVE HIM/HER ALONE.  Be sure they have a safety contact at all times.  Do not use guilt or threats to prevent suicide. (Source: Mental Health First Aid)

How can You Prepare for a Crisis?

According to NAMI, the leading way to avoid a crisis is to prepare in advance for one and share your plan with your loved one. A plan should have the following components.

First, compile the following:

  • The names and numbers of family and friends that can help
  • The names and numbers of the person’s healthcare providers and
  • A listing of their medications

Have it handy – in your purse, on the fridge, or in your phone.

Second, remove any weapons and unprescribed medications from their home.

What Should You Do When a Crisis Starts?

Try to de-escalate the situation by slowly moving toward the person, listening to them, talking calmly, and avoiding judgment.

Next, don’t try to handle the situation alone. Call Coleman’s 24/7 help number or the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineor close family members and friends from the list above.

Know where you’re going for help. Crisis Walk-In Centers, like the seven we have in Ohio, are available most days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and do not require an appointment. At a center, the person will be evaluated to determine what the next step is to address their situation. The goal is to interrupt the downward spiral of negative thinking and increase the stabilization of the individual.

However, sometimes, there is no time to execute your strategy. If the person is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.  Let the 911 operator know that you are with someone who is suicidal and ask for a CIT (Crisis Intervention Trained) responder, if available. Reach out their therapist, doctor, or psychiatrist, if they have one, immediately after. Do not leave the individual alone after you place your calls.

Where are Coleman’s Walk-in Crisis Centers?

Our centers are in Lima, St. Mary’s, Kenton, Steubenville, Ravenna, Canton, Warren and Youngstown. Please check our website or call our 24/7 Helpline for days and hours of service for specific locations.

A Coleman Professional Services Crisis Success Story

Howard (a pseudonym) was concerned about a friend who shared his feelings of depression and hopelessness with Howard. After noticing a pattern of negative Facebook postings and calling him often, he began to worry about his friend’s safety.

Howard called Coleman’s Crisis Services after his friend shared; he was thinking of ending his own life. The hotline staff listened intently and validated Howard’s concerns. Together, they developed a plan for Howard to speak with his friend about calling or coming into the center.

Later that day, Howard and his friend talked to a crisis counselor together. They developed a crisis plan for the friend for the times he starts to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Howard’s friend set up appointments with a counselor and a doctor at Coleman. agreed to call Coleman when he needed their help. He thanked the crisis counselor.


Remember the key to handling a mental health crisis is to have a plan well in advance to deal with one. For additional information on crisis communications, please go to one or more of these websites:

Let’s work toward crisis intervention plans, so fewer individuals have to go through what my extended family experienced.

Coleman Offers Crisis Intervention Services

We have pre-hospital screening, crisis outreach, 24/7 telephone support, phone triage, and walk-in centers for the nine counties we serve.

Here are the 24/7 Crisis numbers for our counties.

Allen, Augulaize and Hardin Counties – 800-567-4673

Jefferson County – 740-996-7127

Mahoning County – 330-744-2991

Portage County – 877-796-3555

Stark County – 330-452-6000

Summit County – 877-796-3555

Trumbull County – 330-392-1100

Coleman Crisis Services Ribbon Cutting in Stark County

We are proud to be serving Stark County 24/7 with our new Coleman Crisis Services and Mobile Response Teams.

Not only is the building always open to those who need crisis services, whether by phone (330-452-6000) or in person (2421 13th St. NW, Canton), but we also have Mobile Response Teams for both adults and youth who will meet you where you are in Stark County.  If needed anytime, please call 330-452-6000.

Coleman CEO Nelson Burns cuts the ribbon at Coleman Crisis Services.  On hand to watch are Victoria VanBuskirk from Congressman Bob Gibbs office, Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei, Coleman Crisis Services Chief Officer Michelle Allison-Smith, Stark MHAR Executive Director John Aller, and some of Coleman Crisis Services staff.

We are very proud of our new Coleman Crisis Services location at 2421 13th St. NW, Canton, OH 44708