What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Living with a mental health condition often leaves us feeling as though we are in a constant crisis. Our bodies and mind react as though we are, sometimes leaving us wondering what to do. There may be times when you are in a dangerous situation and will need to act fast and get help.

To the best of your ability, try to evaluate the situation. What is the nature of your crisis? Do you need treatment immediately? Are you contemplating harming yourself or others? (If you are truly contemplating this, immediately call 911)

If you aren’t quite sure there is an urgent need for help, ask yourself, “Have I already thought of a method to do harm, where, how or when?” If you can answer yes to this, then you have begun developing a plan. Call a friend or family member or your therapist. Have someone come stay with you while you are at risk.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 has trained counselors available to speak with you 24/7. Don’t hesitate to call. There is no shame in asking for help, even if you aren’t sure what you need help with.


If you live with a mental health condition, it’s important to have a plan in place. Know where you can go for treatment and how you will get there. Ask your therapist for methods you can use to calm yourself in an emergency. Know what you are going to tell others if you are absent from work or school for a time. Make sure you and your loved ones have all the information needed to contact mental health professionals if needed.


If you feel as though your condition has gotten worse recently, the first thing to do is call your mental health professionals and explain the situation. Don’t be afraid to speak openly and honestly about what is and isn’t working with your treatment plan if you are already receiving treatment. If you aren’t in a treatment program, seek help for your condition. You can make an urgent appointment with a Primary Care Physician to help you facilitate this.


You may find that just talking to friends, family or someone in a therapy group can alleviate your symptoms. They can offer you support and encouragement and help keep you grounded. The NAMI Helpline is another great resource for support: 800-950-6264


It’s important to know what has helped you in the past. Taking care of yourself and using coping mechanisms that have worked before will help stabilize you. Perhaps meditation or taking a nap, or even going for a walk helps.  Know that doubt and feelings of helplessness may be symptoms of your condition. Act now, regardless of what your mind may be saying.

Knowing that you have a plan in place and people to call, and the resources you may need in a crisis will help. You can remind yourself during difficult times that you have a plan. And always remember, you are not alone, help is available.