Mental Health Information

Mental health issues can affect anyone – friends, a loved one, or ourselves. Knowing exactly what to do in situations where you are noticing warning signs can be confusing. There are several places to start the discussion about mental health. People often start these conversations with their family doctor. Others will search for a therapist themselves. Another option is to contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at either a state or local level to find out more information. Many communities throughout Eastern Iowa also offer community mental health centers that are also a valuable resource. You can also contact us (24 hours a day) at 1-855-800-1239. Even if you are just searching for information, we are here to help.

What are the warning signs of a mental health crisis?

Sometimes family, friends or co-workers observe changes in a person’s behavior that may indicate an impending crisis. Other times the crisis comes suddenly and without warning. You may be able to de-escalate or even prevent a crisis by identifying the early changes in a person’s behavior, such as an unusual reaction to daily tasks or an increase in their stress level. It may be useful to keep a journal or calendar documenting what preceded the behaviors that are of concern.

  • Inability to cope with daily tasks
  • Doesn’t bathe, brush teeth, comb/brush hair
  • Refuses to eat or eats too much
  • Sleeps all day, refuses to get out of bed
  • Can’t sleep or sleeps very short periods of time
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Increased energy level
  • Unable to stay still, pacing
  • Suddenly depressed, withdrawn
  • Suddenly happy/calm after period of depression
  • Increased agitation
  • Makes verbal threats
  • Violent, out-of-control behavior
  • Destroys property
  • Culturally inappropriate language
  • Displays abusive behavior
  • Hurts others
  • Cutting, burning or other self-injurious behavior
  • Abuses alcohol or drugs
  • Loses touch with reality (psychosis)
  • Unable to recognize family or friends
  • Has increasingly strange ideas
  • Is confused and disorganized
  • Thinks they are someone they are not
  • Does not understand what people are saying
  • Hears voices
  • Sees things that are not there
  • Isolation from school, work, family, friends
  • Decreased interest in usual recreational activities
  • Changes in friendships
  • Stops going to school or work
  • Unexplained physical symptoms
  • Facial expressions look different
  • Increase in headaches, stomach aches
  • Complains they don’t feel well

What are examples of things that can trigger a mental health crisis?

Home or Environment triggers

  • Changes to family structure
  • Changes in relationship with boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, spouse
  • Loss of any kind: family member or friend due to death or relocation, pet
  • Strained relationships with roommates, loved ones
  • Changes in friendships
  • Fights or arguments with loved ones or friends
  • Trauma/violence
  • Poverty
  • School/work triggers
  • Worrying about upcoming projects or tasks
  • Feeling singled out by co-workers/peers; feelings of loneliness
  • Mounting pressures, anxiety about deadlines
  • Lack of understanding from peers, co-workers, teachers or supervisors who may not understand that behaviors are symptoms of mental illnesses
  • Real or perceived discrimination

Other triggers

  • Stops taking medication or misses doses
  • Starts new medication or new dosage of current medication; medication stops working
  • Use or abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Pending court dates
  • Being in crowds, large groups of people
  • Community trauma/violence

What is a Mental Health Crisis Team?

Mental health mobile crisis response teams are composed of mental health professionals and practitioners who can effectively and appropriately intervene in a mental health crisis. These professionals can meet a person at home, school, work or wherever a crisis occurs. The teams meet face-to-face with the person in crisis to assess and de-escalate the situation. Additional services can include: stabilization for up to five days, rapid access to psychiatrists, and referrals to community mental health providers. Teams can also contact emergency services when necessary. Additionally, teams can provide longer-term support by helping loved ones and caregivers develop “crisis plans” to better prepare for future crises. Crisis services are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year.

Who uses Mental Health Crisis Teams?

Crisis teams are designed to be accessible to anyone in the community at any time. Families and friends of a person experiencing a mental health crisis can call a crisis team to assist and support their loved one. Like all emergency services (fire, police, EMT), crisis teams are available to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay and must be ready to respond to any mental health emergency. Mobile crisis response is available in all 9 counties of the region.

Why are Mental Health Crisis Teams important?

A mental health crisis can be an extremely frightening and difficult experience for both the person in crisis and those around them. Loved ones and caregivers are often ill-equipped to handle these situations and need the advice and support of professionals. All too frequently, law enforcement or EMT’s are called to respond to mental health crises and they often lack the training and experience to effectively handle the situation. Mental health crisis teams have the training and know-how to help resolve mental health crises.  By intervening early, mental health crisis teams can help prevent costly and unnecessary stays in hospitals and jails.  Crisis teams are also effective in connecting people with the community mental health system who had not accessed treatment and services before.

Support is Available

Many times people need small amounts of assistance to make big changes. Sometimes people need more support in their recovery. The following are some of the types of support services that may be available. If you think you would like to explore any of the following, please contact your regional office.

  1. Therapy – seeing a mental health professional or a psychiatrist may be all you need to feel better. We can assist you in locating one, or you can use the yellow pages or the internet to locate therapists or psychiatrists near you. If you do not have insurance, please call your regional office for assistance.
  2. Employment – coaching and follow along to handle the stresses of work. You may be qualified for help with finding or keeping a job.
  3. Supported Community Living – a person visiting you in your home to help with daily living. You might need some skill building with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, or day to day problems.