What to do in a crisis

Anyone can experience a mental health crisis. Students do not need to have a severe mental health disorder to be in crisis.

A mental health crisis is when someone is unable to cope with the stresses of everyday living in a functional and safe way. They may not necessarily be a danger to themselves or others: a mental health crisis may look and feel differently for each person.

What are the signs that you need to take action?

Take action if a student:

  • attempts self-harm or suicide, or makes plans to die by suicide
  • threatens self-harm or threatens to harm others
  • is verbally or physically abusive
  • is severely agitated
  • talks very rapidly or non-stop
  • is excessively withdrawn
  • doesn’t sleep or eat for several days
  • has acute psychotic symptoms (delusions or hallucinations) that cause distress.
What to do if a student is having a mental health crisis

If a student is having a mental health crisis, you should:

  • stay with them until help arrives
  • stay calm, keep talking and be non-judgemental in your questioning
  • remove anything that could cause harm, such as medication, knives or car keys
  • be aware of your own safety.
When to seek immediate help

Get help immediately if you think a student is a physical danger to themselves or others.

You could:

  • call 111
  • go to your nearest hospital emergency department
  • phone your local DHB mental health crisis team
  • contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.

Resources: Association for Children’s Mental Health

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