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MENTAL HEALTH GUIDE

Crisis Help

Mental health crises can range from risk of suicide to rapid mood swings, abusive behavior, inability to perform daily tasks, paranoia, and/or loss of touch with reality.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please reach out for help.

  • Call 911: If there is an immediate risk of endangering oneself or others, contact 911. Inform the operator that you are calling about a mental health crisis.

  • Crisis Text Line: Get 24/7 help from the Crisis Text Line . Text PA to 741741 to start the conversation.

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the Lifeline  at 800-273-8255. [Español: 888-628-9454.].

Reaching out for help is the right thing to do. You are not alone.

 

Get Connected to Support

  • Pennsylvania’s Support & Referral Helpline connects Pennsylvanians with mental and emotional support and to local resources.  Call 855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600).

  • Call 2-1-1 to reach the United Way and get connected to help in your area. Search crisis services, hotlines, and warmlines near you on the United Way of Pennsylvania website .

Find a Facility/Specialist

For Medicaid Patients

If you have Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania, you can find an in-network provider  by clicking on the Behavioral Health Managed Care Organization (BH-MCO) listed for your county. Find a Beacon Health Options Provider

 

PREVENTING SUICIDE

Please call 911 if danger for self-harm seems imminent.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, you are not alone — no matter how much pain you are experiencing.

Remember that emotions aren’t fixed, and how you feel today might not be the same as how you feel tomorrow.

Take these immediate actions suggested by HelpGuide :

  1. Promise not to do anything right now. Your thoughts do not have to become a reality.

  2. Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  3. Make your home safe by removing things you could use to hurt yourself.

  4. Don’t keep these thoughts to yourself. Reach out to someone you trust, and/or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

  5. Remember that people do get through this. (Want to meet some survivors? Watch their stories here. )

You are valued and there are people who care about you and resources here to help.

Helping A Loved One

Suicide prevention is all of our business. Oftentimes, if a person in crisis gets the professional help they need, they will never be suicidal again.

If someone says they are thinking about suicide, they need professional help. Don’t play it down or ignore the situation.

  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number, such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)

  • Encourage the person to seek treatment

  • Offer to help the person take steps to get support

  • Encourage them to communicate with you

  • Never promise to keep suicidal feelings a secret

  • Remove potentially dangerous items from the person’s home, if possible

More tips on supporting a person who is suicidal from Mayo Clinic .

Warning Signs

  • Talking about suicide/wanting to die

  • Looking for a way to die by suicide (such as searching online or buying a gun)

  • Talking about feeling worthless

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Suddenly happier and calmer, especially after a period of depression

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Getting affairs in order/making arrangements

  • Increased alcohol/drug use

  • Preoccupation with death

Risk Factors

  • Depression diagnosis

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • Family history of suicide

  • Loss of job/home/money

  • Death/terminal illness of a loved one

  • Divorce or loss major relationship

See more warning signs and risk factors for suicide from Prevent Suicide PA.

Worried About someone? Here’s What To Do

  1. Ask if they are OK, and listen to them like a true friend

  2. Tell them you are worried about them and they are not alone

  3. Talk to a mental health professional about your concerns

Not sure who to reach out to for help? You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and text the Crisis Text Line (741741) to talk about your concerns for someone else.

 

COVID & MENTAL HEALTH

Take Care of Yourself

The CDC  suggests these general tips to help you cope:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news — including on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  • Take care of your body:

    • Try to eat balanced meals

    • Exercise regularly

    • Get plenty of sleep

    • Avoid alcohol and drugs

  • Make time to unwind with activities you enjoy.

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about how you’re feeling.

Get Help

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not an indication of weakness.

Experiencing emotional distress due to COVID-19? Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Find a comprehensive list of COVID-19 mental health information and resources  through Mental Health America.

Talking With Kids

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has compiled resources for talking to children about COVID-19. Feel free to explore those resources.

Here are some general tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics :

  • Take care of yourself first

  • Watch for unusual behavior

    • Depressed/irritable moods

    • Sleep disturbances

    • Appetite changes

    • Social withdrawal

  • Ask what your child already has heard

  • Limit TV viewing surrounding COVID-19, especially for younger kids

Coping With Loss

Grieving the loss of a loved one while coping with the fear and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic can be especially overwhelming.  Social distancing, “stay-at home-orders,” and limits on the size of in-person gatherings have changed the way friends and family can gather and grieve, including holding traditional funeral services, regardless of whether or not the person’s death was due to COVID-19.   However, these types of prevention strategies are important to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some actions you can take to help you cope with feelings of grief after the loss of a loved include:

  • Connect with other people

    • Invite people to call you or host conference calls with family members and friends to stay connected

    • Ask family and friends to share stories and pictures with you via mailed letters, email, phone, or video chat or via apps or social media that allow groups to share with each other (e.g., group chat, group messaging, Facebook)

    • Coordinate a date and time for family and friends to honor your loved one by reciting a selected poem, spiritual reading, or prayer within their own households

  • Create memories or rituals

    • Develop a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage to remember your loved one, and ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories

    • Take part in an activity, such as planting a tree or preparing a favorite meal, that has significance to you and the loved one who died

  • Ask for help from others

    • Seek out grief counseling or mental health services, support groups, or hotlines, especially those that can be offered over the phone or online

    • Seek spiritual support from faith-based organizations, including your religious leaders and congregations, if applicable

    • Seek support from other trusted community leaders and friends

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the family and close friends of a person who died of COVID-19 may experience stigma, such as social avoidance or rejection. Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards other people. Some people may avoid contacting you, your family members, and friends when they would normally reach out to you.  Stigma related to COVID-19 is less likely to occur when people know the facts and share them with extended family, friends, and others in your community.

— Information from the CDC

BLACK MENTAL HEALTH

When police brutality against Black Americans is at the forefront of the news cycle, depression and anxiety can cause added stress.

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Pennsylvania’s Commission on African American Affairs gathered the following resources that can help:

Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma

The Association of Black Psychologists  suggests these tips for self care when experiencing racial stress or trauma:

  • Self-monitor for signs of stress

  • Restore the well that is you

    • Take a break from social media and the news

    • Fill the depleted well with positive, comforting thoughts and experiences

    • Rest and relax

    • Be intentionally kind and gentle with yourself and those around you

  • Let others replenish the well

    • Ask for help

    • Seek out comfort and conversation with those who love and understand you

  • Stay spiritually grounded with prayer and/or mindfulness

  • Remember your body

    • Practice relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing)

    • Release energy, tension, and strain to the body that comes from carrying stress and trauma

      • Walk, exercise, dance, stretch — whatever suits you!

      • Remember to breathe deeply

  • Stay informed, but monitor how often you’re checking in

    • Periodically turn of the news and tune into self-care

  • Be intentionally kind and gentle with yourself and those around you

Download the full self-care toolkit developed for and by people of African ancestry .

Black Mental Health Alliance

The Black Mental Health Alliance  supports the health and well-being of Black people and other vulnerable communities.

Looking for a therapist? Fill out a short questionnaire and someone will follow up with you within 24 hours.

Therapy for Black Girls

This national effort by Dr. Joy presents mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant to Black girls and women.

Find a culturally competent therapist by using the Therapy for Black Girls search tool .

Vietnamese Outpatient Clinic

WES Health System has a specialized outpatient program to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s growing Asian population.

The program provides medication evaluation and consultation, individual and group therapy, and family and couples therapy in a patient’s native language.

The clinic is located at 2514 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Contact the office at 215-599-2845.

 

 

RESOURCES FOR EVERYONE

Find the Right Help for You

 

I'm Experiencing Grief

Coping with loss is overwhelming. It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions.

Any loss can cause grief, including;

Please go easy on yourself if you are experiencing grief. It is normal to feel grief from even subtle losses in life.

How To Cope

Mental Health America shares these tips for living with grief:

  • Seek out caring people. Find friends and family who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.

  • Express your feelings. Tell others what is going on with you.

  • Take care of your health. Eat well, get plenty of rest, and reach out to your family physician.

  • Postpone major life changes. You deserve time to adjust to your loss.

  • Be patient. There is no timeline for coping with grief. Please be gentle with yourself.

  • Seek professional help. If your grief is too much to bear, please reach out for help. Search for a grief therapist near you .

One day the pain will lessen. Until then, if you need extra support, that’s completely normal. Get connected to help and resources in your area through Pennsylvania’s Support and Referral Helpline: 855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600).

 

I'm Feeling Stressed

We all experience stress from time to time, but if you are feeling more stressed out than usual or your stress won’t go away, you might want to take action to protect your health.

Here are some tips for managing stress from the National Institute of Mental Health :

  • Know your body’s response to stress, such as:

    • Difficulty sleeping

    • Increased alcohol/substance use

    • Being easily angered

    • Feeling depressed

    • Having low energy

  • Talk to your health care provider

  • Get regular exercise

  • Try a relaxing activity

  • Decide what must get done now and what can wait

  • Say “No” to tasks that make it feel like you’re taking on too much

  • Stay connected with people who can provide emotional support and practical help

If you are feeling overwhelmed, please seek out help. Use Psychology Today’s search engine and/or SAMHSA’s search tool  to find therapists, treatment facilities, health care centers, support groups, and more.

 

I'm Part of the LGBTQ Community

You deserve to feel fully heard and understood when seeking support and resources. There are professionals/organizations that understand the unique experiences that come with being LGBTQ.

Crisis Help

If you are in need of immediate support, please call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386chat online with TrevorChat , or text START to 678-678 to have a text conversation.

Find Support

  • Find the right LGBTQ helpline for you by browsing the United Way of Pennsylvania’s list of service providers .

  • The Trevor Support Center  offers help around a number of topics, from healthy relationships, to coming out, to homelessness, and more. Connect with them by text by texting START to 678-678.

  • Call the LGBT National Hotline at 888-843-4564 for confidential peer support and other resources.

  • The Trans Lifeline  is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive. Call the hotline at 877-565-8860.

  • Browse transgender self-help resources  from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

  • If you’re 50 years old and older, call the LGBT National Senior Hotline at 888-234-7243.

Connect With Other LGBTQ Young People

  • Meet LGBTQ friends with TrevorSpace . This space is for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24.

  • Join a weekly youth chatroom  on the LGBT National Help Center website. This chatroom is for young people ages 19 and younger.

 

I've Experienced Violence

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

If you have experienced violence, it is not your fault. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can begin to feel better.

Coping With Trauma

Trauma can have long-term effects on mental health. You are not alone.

It is normal to:

  • Feel anxious, sad, or angry

  • Have trouble concentrating and sleeping

  • Continually think about what happened

If these reactions are interfering with daily activities, you may want to seek some help. Some signs from the National Institute of Mental Health  that you might need help:

  • Worrying a lot or feeling very anxious, sad, or fearful

  • Crying often

  • Having trouble thinking clearly

  • Feeling angry, resentful, or irritable

  • Having frightening thoughts or flashbacks

  • Having nightmares/difficulty sleeping

  • Avoiding places or people that bring back disturbing memories

  • Becoming isolated

Children might:

  • Wet the bed after having learned to use the toilet

  • Forget how to or be unable to talk

  • Act out the scary event during playtime

  • Become unusually clingy

In addition to reaching out for help if you need it, try to avoid alcohol and other drugs, spend time with supportive loved ones, and maintain normal routines as much as possible.

If you suspect child abuse, report it. Call ChildLine at 800-932-0313. Find other resources on the Keep Kids Safe website.

Domestic Violence

If you witness or hear a violent incident, do not ignore it and don’t intervene on your own. Call 911 immediately.

Pennsylvania has more than 50 domestic violence programs to help victims find safety. Find your closest domestic violence program  and/or call the National Helpline at 800-799-7233.

It’s not always easy to identify domestic violence. Here are some warning signs to watch for from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence  (PCADV):

  • Name calling/demeaning comments

  • Seeming “too good to be true” early in the relationship

  • Relationship advances quickly

  • Threatens to harm/kill you, your pets, or family members

  • Blames you for the abusive behavior

  • Prevents you from spending time with loved ones

  • Restricts access to financial resources

Worried you might be in an abusive relationship? Take the “Is this abuse?” quiz  from PCADV.

Sexual Violence

If someone comes to you to say they have experienced sexual violence, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. Believe them and remind them that it is not their fault.

Pennsylvania’s rape crisis centers provide 24/7 confidential services for those who have experienced sexual assault. Find your local rape crisis center  with this map from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape or call 888-772-7227 for support and services, including:

  • Crisis counseling

  • Services for family, friends, and partners

  • Information

  • Referrals to other services in your area

  • Prevention education programs

Find more resources through the National Sexual Violence Resource Center  — located right here in Pennsylvania.

 

I'm a Service Member/Veteran

Are you a veteran in crisis or are you concerned about a veteran in crisis? Here’s how to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line:

Here are three common mental health concerns for military members, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    Signs you might be struggling with PTSD include: trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy, and alcohol and drug abuse.

  2. Depression
    Depression symptoms include: Sleep and appetite changes, lack of concentration, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities, hopelessness, guilty thoughts, physical aches and pains, and suicidal thoughts. If you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, then press 1.

  3. Traumatic Brain Injury
    Signs of a traumatic brain injury include: Difficulty thinking, headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, irritability, sleep changes, sadness, difficulty remembering new information, and difficulty concentrating.

If you are struggling with any of these concerns, please seek out help. Find a health care provider in the TriCare network  by searching online.

Learn more about common military mental health concerns and how to help a fellow warrior on the NAMI website .

Find more mental health resources for veterans  on the federal Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Military Sexual Assault

The Department of Defense’s Safe Helpline is here to help survivors of sexual assault. Use the Safe Helpline website  for live chats, reporting retaliation, and more. Get help by phone at 877-995-5247.

I'm Struggling With A Substance

Substance Use Disorder is a disease, and you deserve to get help for your illness.

Signs that you might need help include:

  • Lack of control/inability to stay away from a substance

  • Decreased socialization

  • Ignoring risk factors

  • Physical effects, such as withdrawal symptoms

Recovery starts with a call. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for information about treatment resources. Your call is confidential. The hotline is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is available in both English and Spanish.

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has a search engine for finding treatment, as well. Search by ZIP code, county, or statewide for programs that could help you.

What to ask treatment providers  to determine if they are right for you.

Online Resources

Someone I Love Has Substance Use Disorder

Starting a conversation about getting help isn’t easy. These tips from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  are helpful for talking with your loved one about getting treatment:

  • Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Consider a role-playing practice with someone else.

  • Choose the right time to talk. Your loved one should be sober for this. Avoid having this chat at celebrations and on holidays.

  • Try to be calm and supportive. Your loved one’s life may be in chaos right now. You can be a calming influence.

  • Don’t gang up on the person. It’s important that they feel supported, not threatened.

  • Stick with the facts. A person with substance use disorder has a medical problem. Treatment works, and recovery is possible. Let them know you’re here to help them find a good plan of action.

Compulsive Gambling

Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling

  • Needing increase amounts of money to get the same thrill

  • Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success

  • Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling

  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression

Get Help