Responding to mental health crises

Responding to mental health crises

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:

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