Helping a Loved One in Need
Mental health and substance use are increasingly common, and we all need some basic tools and skills to assess, support, and protect people experiencing these disorders. A behavioral health crisis can take many forms, such as:
- panic attacks
- suicidal ideation
- overdose on drugs or alcohol
No matter what kind of crisis someone might be going through, you can help.
What You Can Say and Do
- Make sure to stay with your loved one while they’re at risk, and do not hesitate to get them professional help.
- Let them know that you are concerned for their well-being, and that they can lean on you for support. This is the most important thing you can communicate in a crisis.
- Use an empathetic, non-judgmental tone to encourage your loved one to talk about how they feel.
- Avoid minimizing their problems or giving advice. This may create distance between you and upset them further.
- Reassure them that whatever they’re experiencing is not their fault.
- Remember that you are not a trained professional. If you feel out of your depth, you may want to include other family members, your place of worship, community groups, or local crisis services for additional support.
- It’s important not to be afraid to ask directly if they are thinking about suicide. This question does not make someone become suicidal, but it does help both of you determine what to do next.
- Allow your loved one to stay in control. Offer them choices on how you can help them. Reassure them that it’s okay to seek help, even if they think that they can cope without it. Usually your loved one will agree they need help; sometimes however, you may need to unilaterally make this decision if you decide it could be in their best interests and personal safety.
Help Your Loved One Develop a Crisis Plan Before a Crisis Happens
A crisis plan is a document that contains important information and outlines how to manage a crisis situation, such as:
- Phone numbers of mental health professions, family members and friends
- A list of current prescription medications, doses and diagnosis
- Any history of suicide attempts, psychosis, hospitalizations or drug use
- Triggers and coping mechanism that have helped in the past
When a Crisis Intervention or Hospital Visit Is Needed
People may need a crisis intervention and/or go to the hospital if they:
- Threaten or try to take their lives or hurt themselves or others
- See or hear things (hallucinations)
- Believe things that aren’t true (delusions)
- Have problems with alcohol or substances
- Have not eaten or slept for several days
- Are unable to care for themselves or their families, e.g., getting out of bed, bathing, dressing
- Need to make a significant switch in treatment or medication under the close supervision of a doctor
- Have any symptom of mania or depression that significantly interferes with life
Englewood Health Physician Network
Your regular primary physician is usually the best starting point for behavioral health treatment and advice, especially as they are someone you already know and trust. Primary care doctors are able to treat and prescribe medications for many non-complex mental health conditions. They are also good at referring you to more specialized care should you need it. Call 833-234-2234 or visit
englewoodhealthphysicians.org to find a primary care doctor.
The Gregory P. Shadek Behavioral Care Center
Englewood Health’s outpatient program with a team of psychiatrists and LCSW therapists work with more complex behavioral health conditions. The providers accept all insurances and are located within many primary care offices as well as having their own office. Call 201-292-1400 or find a psychiatrist or therapist online.
Call 911 or go to the Emergency Department if it is a life-threatening emergency. Notify the 911 operator that it is a psychiatric emergency and ask for an officer trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people experiencing a psychiatric emergency.
In a non-life-threatening emergency, Bergen County’s Designated Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program (201-262-HELP/4357) will connect you with a crisis specialist who can come to your home and provide mental health evaluations, crisis intervention counseling, and assessment for services. Open 24/7.
Englewood Hospital Inpatient Psychiatry (201-894-3142) is for adults requiring acute admission for assessment, monitoring, and stabilization of symptoms.
NJ Mental Health Cares
NJ Mental Health Cares is New Jersey’s behavioral health information and referral service. Open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 866-202-HELP (4357).
IME Addiction Access Center
IME Addiction Access Center (844-276-2777) can provide information about substance use services throughout NJ. Open 24/7.
Reach NJ (844-732-2465) helps people with Medicaid or who are uninsured find an appropriate inpatient facility. Open 24/7.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK/8255) has trained crisis counselors to speak with 24/7.
Crisis Text Line
Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive crisis support via text message.
PerformCare / NJ Children’s System of Care
PerformCare / NJ Children’s System of Care (877-652-7624) offers information, assessment and referrals for children needing mental health, addiction or intellectual/developmental disability support.