Discuss Contrasting Views on How Support Might Best Be Provided to People Experiencing Mental Health Crises

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Discuss contrasting views on how support might best be provided to people experiencing mental health crises.

In this essay I will define and explain what is meant by mental health crisis. I will look at the various crises support that is available to people experiencing mental health crises. I will also look at the point of views of service users/survivors and that of professionals on the support provided to people experiencing mental health crisis, bringing out the contrasts in their perspectives.

In the 1960’s an American Psychiatrist Gerald Caplan developed a crisis theory. In this theory, Caplan stated that when a person is not able to deal with or resolve challenges that hinder him/her from achieving important goals of his/her life through the normal problem-solving method, then, that person is said to be in crisis. (Module 4, Section 6, P. 58). Going by Caplan’s theory, a person who is mentally distressed to the point of not able to use effective problem-solving and coping skills to achieve what is important to him/her, will appear to be experiencing mental health crisis. At this stage the person's mental state deteriorates to the extent that it calls for a form of intervention to protect the individual or others from harm. A mental health crisis can occur for reasons such as bereavement and prolonged periods of stress or ill health. It can also occur as a result of a relapse. A person in mental health crisis, may feel suicidal, or experience grief, fear or anger and might be thinking of harming him/herself or even commit suicide. Sometimes the individual may be very disturbed by hearing strange voices he/she is not able to control. They may be seeing frightening visions, become physically or mentally exhausted because they may be too agitated and anxious to sleep. These reasons that trigger occurrence of mental health crisis seem to be in line with Caplan’s crisis theory that suggest, that there is link between ordinary life crisis and mental health crisis. Caplan maintains that if ordinary life crisis is prevented, it could “lessen chances of mental illness occurring.” (Module 4, Section 6, P. 58). He says that crisis is normal and part of everyday living. If a person is therefore not able to cope with the normal crisis and degenerate into mental distress then a preventive method cannot be full proof.

Contrary to Caplan’s approach, other approaches maintain that people who already have psychiatric symptoms can be supported to reduce the risk of crisis, through the use of crisis intervention which many mental health institutions are using to help prevent crisis. Presently crisis intervention refers to the methods used to offer immediate, short-term help to individuals who experience mental distresses and problems. Crisis intervention has several purposes. It aims to reduce the extremity of an individual's reaction to crisis. It also helps individuals to return to their level of functioning before the crisis by developing new coping skills and removing ways of coping that have not been effective. Crisis intervention also helps to assist the individual in recovering from the crisis and prevents serious long-term problems. It is said to be a “here-and-now therapy, directed at specific goals and exploring possible options open to the family or individual”. (Module 4, Section 6, P.58). An example is the Barnet Community and Crisis Intervention service which is the longest established and best known crisis intervention service in the UK. (Module 4, Section 6, P. 60). Most mental health trusts run a 24/7 crisis intervention service with the aim of responding to mental health emergencies 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. “A typical crisis intervention progresses through several phases. It begins with an assessment of what happened during the crisis and the individual's responses to it... Assessment of the individual's potential for suicide and/or homicide is also conducted. Also,...
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