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When a Mental Health Crisis Happens, It Is Important to Understand What Is Happening, Why, or How

Melissa Prusko, Psy.D.
• October 27, 2021

One of the many things we’ve learned over the past two years is that crises happen. And no matter the type of crisis, knowing what to expect can help. This is especially key in responding to mental health crises, which have many moving parts and often involve the emergency room. In fact, from 2006 to 2014, one in eight visits to the ER were due to mental health or substance use — a number that has only increased during the pandemic.

“Everything happens so fast, and we never have a moment to understand what is happening, why, or how. It is important to take care of yourself throughout this process and allow compassion, as this can be overwhelming and daunting,” writes Melissa Prusko, Psy.D., in our latest Clinical Science Insights.

In this paper, Dr. Prusko takes us through what to expect during a mental health crisis. She writes from her own experience focused on trauma and working in emergency rooms, inpatient hospitals, residential treatment centers and more. Dr. Prusko starts by defining what constitutes a mental health crisis and then explains how intervention works. She also addresses common questions and concerns people have when bringing themselves or a loved one in for evaluation and safety.

As you read through the process, keep in mind that though mental health crises are overwhelming, they do eventually end. According to Dr. Prusko, “It is often true that the hardest decisions we make for ourselves and others are borne out of deep love, care, and concern. There is no greater show of love than ensuring yourself or those you love are safe.”

Melissa Prusko, Psy.D.

Dr. Prusko (she/her) strives to provide a compassionate and empathic therapeutic relationship that allows for feeling safe enough to explore and to make sense, together, what may bring someone to therapy. While she practices from a psychodynamic perspective, she is skilled at delivering techniques in a relational manner for those who are seeking new skills for symptom relief.