Do you have a family member or friend who is dealing with an emotional crisis? Are you suffering through a particularly devastating time yourself? This type of challenge can be caused by many things, including loss, extreme life changes, health issues, severe stress, anxiety, or depression.
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 data, approximately 325.7 million people live in America. An estimated 47.4 million of those people are African-American. Black people make up about 14 percent of the population, and 16 percent have a diagnosable mental illness.
Unfortunately, society has put a negative stigma around mental illness. Still, in the Black community, it has been disregarded and swept under the rug. In contrast, the Black community has dealt with its collateral damage of emotional crises for decades.
Black people have had a long history of emotional crisis just being Black in America. Racial oppression, lynching, Jim Crow, redlining, and police brutality, to name a few. It is unfortunate and a disservice when we do not have real conversations about emotional crisis and mental health from our leaders, our organizations, or each other; we are ignorant of the signs if our loved ones have an emotional crisis.
In many cases, Black people do not seek – or can afford to seek – professional help for conditions such as depression and anxiety. Many resort to self-medication, which often results in substance abuse and isolation, leading to more severe health problems and can destroy the family.
An emotional crisis can is defined as a breakdown or other issue that occurs after serious events. An emotional situation can happen because you lose a friend, family member, or pet. A crisis can also occur from a buildup of stress and anxiety from work, family, or others. Health issues can also lead to emotional turmoil. Natural disasters, unemployment, divorce, separation, and other life events can lead to a crisis.
A person in a crisis can suffer from multiple symptoms: anxiety, depression, paranoia, irritability, and more. They may not be able to work or handle family duties.
Physical issues are also associated with an emotional crisis. The mind isn’t the only part of the body that is affected by an emotional crisis. You can suffer physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, fatigue, pain and other symptoms are common.
During an emotional crisis, you may not be able to think or plan properly. You may have suicidal thoughts and severe depression.
The consequences of this type of crisis can range from loss of work to loss of life. You may feel isolated and lose relationships. You may also suffer financial issues and setbacks.
Medications are frequently used to help a person who is going through an emotional crisis. Depression is common, so antidepressants and other drugs may be prescribed.
You may benefit from a support group that helps you deal with the crisis. Support groups vary, but they include groups for those who have lost family and friends. There are also groups for people dealing with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Groups for people who have survived natural disasters also exist.
Therapy is another option that can help you get through an emotional crisis.
Therapists can help you find coping strategies and work with you during a crisis. They may prescribe medications to help you deal with the stresses of day-to-day life during your crisis.
A vacation may even help you handle an emotional crisis. It will at least allow you to temporarily escape the daily issues that create the crisis and give you time to “regroup.”
Stress is often a factor in an emotional crisis, so taking a vacation can help you reduce that stress and achieve new clarity. It can also help you find a different perspective on the situation. On vacation, you can even meet new people that may help you move past the crisis.
An emotional crisis can differ significantly from person to person. Each situation is unique and requires a unique approach. A single approach may not fix an emotional crisis, so you may have to try more than one. It may take some time, resources, and effort, possibly even on a long-term basis. Inpatient or outpatient care at treatment facilities may be necessary in severe cases of an emotional crisis.
How to Recognize if family or friends are going through an emotional crisis
When someone struggles with an emotional crisis, you can often notice its effects on their behavior just by paying attention. It would be best if you looked at the way they talk and react to situations. Are they calm and their tone of voice steady? What is their body language?
Suppose you suspect they are experiencing stress or some other mental health challenge. In that case, you can also try to gain more information by talking and listening to any concerns that may be bothering them.
How to Spark a Conversation with someone going through an Emotional Crisis
You will only spark a conversation with a person suffering from a mental health issue if you build rapport with them and gain their trust.
The following factors should be kept in mind when starting a successful conversation that concerns a colleague’s mental wellbeing:
Take a Non-Judgmental Approach
When your attitude towards the individual is open and non-judgmental, they will be more likely to share what’s on their mind.
Have Assertive But Open Body Language
While talking to your loved one, be careful and mindful of your body language.
- You have to avoid fidgeting.
- Avoid holding your phone in your hand and looking at your phone while talking. These things signal a lack of interest and lack of empathy.
- Don’t cross your arms while talking to them.
- Maintain comfortable eye contact.
- Be interested.
- Avoid showing any signs of surprise or disagreement through your eyes or body language.
Be Mindful of Your Words
When talking to a person experiencing a mental health crisis, you have to watch your choice of words.
For example, you shouldn’t say statements such as:
- It’s nothing; you’ll be fine!
- It’s all in your head.
- You need to simmer down.
- You need to relax and stop taking on so much stress.
- You overthink all the time; this is why you are in trouble.
- Cheer yourself up!
How to Listen Effectively
When talking about mental health in the workplace, remember the following:
Effective listening includes avoidance of:
- Subjective opinions.
It involves empathy and friendliness, so the person sharing their mental struggles can feel supported and able to move towards finding solutions.
You can also encourage them to seek professional help by discussing all the viable and available options (e.g., a counselor/psychotherapist, psychiatrist, GP, nutritionist, etc.).
An emotional crisis can be challenging to handle, but there’s help available. I urge Black leadership to be more mindful of the needs of Black people. You or your loved ones shouldn’t suffer alone. Get the help you need to overcome the crisis and move forward with joyous and fulfilling life.