Michigan Association of Health Plans

How parents can spot a possible mental health crisis

This article originally appeared in the Manistee News-Advocate. Read more here

Here are some steps the Michigan State Police Office of School Safety office shared in a news release that parents and trusted adults can use to recognize indicators of a mental health crisis:

• Cognitive reactions: Inability to stop thinking about the crisis, loss of objectivity, an inability to make decisions or an inability to express oneself verbally or in writing.

• Physical reactions: Chronic fatigue and exhaustion, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and other aches and pains, loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping.

• Emotional reactions: Excessive worry or anxiety, numbing, irritability, anger or rage, distressing thoughts or dreams, suicidal thoughts and/or severe depression.

• Behavioral or social reactions: Alcohol and substance abuse, withdrawal from contact with loved ones or an inability to complete or return to normal work responsibilities or daily tasks.

Robert Sheehan, CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, said the shooting is “layered upon the collective trauma of the prolonged pandemic, has made many of us, as Michiganders, more fearful, more anxious, more reactive.”

“Now is the time for all of us to be attentive to the needs of each other and reach out rather than pull back; to listen with patience rather than lecture; to collectively build upon — and, where needed, rebuild — what has made our relationships and our communities strong. Only by taking these steps will we turn post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth,” Sheehan said.

“It can be difficult to talk to someone you care about who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or other trauma,” reads part of the release. “When engaging in these conversations it is helpful to utilize active listening skills: Be attentive, repeat what you heard or ask for clarification, reflect feelings without judgement, ask open ended questions, and summarize what is being shared. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above indicators, please seek professional help.”

Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director, said “It’s OK to ask for help for mental health needs and we are ensuring access is available if, when and where help is needed.”

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