Last updated: 4th October, 2023
While we hope you'll never have to deal with a mental health crisis in your group, if you've built a community where people trust each other, it is possible you'll have members of your group reaching out about mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, trauma, or addiction.
It can be difficult to decide how to respond in these situations, especially if someone expresses thoughts in a non-EA space and/or you don't know them well. It can also be hard to figure out how much time to put into responding (for example, whether to be available for extended correspondence / calls) and what to do if the person doesn't seem interested. We don't have correct answers to what to do here, but in general, it is good to "express caring," and take care of yourself in the process
1. Talking to people who are suicidal
Some of the best resources the community health team recommends include:
- How to Help When a Friend is Feeling Suicidal by Nancy Schimelpfening
- Five Action Steps for Communicating with Someone Who Is Suicidal
- A list of International Crisis Help Lines
- A guide for moderators on responding to suicidal content by National Suicide Prevention Alliance
2. Talking to people who've experienced sexual assault
Below is a video training on active, compassionate listening when people disclose a sexual assault. The same methods apply for any kind of difficult situation a person is telling you about. (The beginning is about Canadian law specifically, but the interview sections, starting at about 14:00, are more useful.)
3. Mediating conflicts between group members
Another useful resource is "The Mediator's Handbook". Although the formal steps of mediation aren't what we expect group organizers to use, there are some useful ideas around working out what's important to both parties and whether there's a way forward that's acceptable to both.
4. Where to look for help
- CEA's Community Health team is available to respond to non-urgent questions about mental health crises. Feel free to reach out to Catherine Low at email@example.com. You can also fill out the Community Health Contact Form (it can be filled out anonymously.)
- EA Mental Health Navigator is also a good resource for individuals. They have a list of recommended therapists who may be a good fit for your members.