When confronting an individual during a mental health crisis, acute stabilization is sometimes necessary. This can involve providing therapeutic resources that help to calm and de-escalate the situation. Below is an overview of acute stabilization, when it might be necessary, and how to provide it.
What Is Acute Stabilization?
Acute stabilization refers to intervening in a mental health crisis to address immediate needs and restore equilibrium. This is done through various methods, including crisis counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, mental health services, and medication. The ultimate goal of acute stabilization is to reduce or eliminate distress and to help the individual return to a more stable emotional state.
When Is Acute Stabilization Necessary?
It can be difficult to determine when acute stabilization is necessary for an individual. Generally speaking, it should be used when an individual exhibits signs or symptoms that could lead to harm or injury if not managed. Examples could include excessive agitation, suicidal ideation, severe paranoia, aggressive behavior toward others, self-harm behaviors, and homicidal ideation. If left unchecked, these symptoms may worsen over time and require more intensive interventions.
How to Provide Acute Stabilization
- Assess the situation. When providing acute stabilization, assessing the individual and their environment is essential to determine the necessary interventions. It is important to observe any changes in behavior or mood that could indicate a need for urgent attention.
- Provide emotional support. Emotional support is important for helping an individual stabilize during a crisis. This may involve talking with the person, validating their feelings, and offering reassurance.
- Utilize problem-solving techniques. Problem-solving techniques can help individuals identify options for dealing with the stressful situations they may be facing. This can include providing concrete solutions such as developing action plans or creating calming activities that can be done at the moment.
- Create safety plans. Safety plans should be created to ensure the individual is safe during and after a mental health crisis. This could involve providing resources such as hotline numbers, access to counseling services, or other types of support if needed.
- Connect the individual with additional care. Once the acute situation has been stabilized, it is important to connect the individual with long-term mental health services if needed. This could include referrals to psychiatrists, psychologists, or other healthcare providers who can provide ongoing treatment and support.
- Increases quality of life. Acute stabilization also improves the quality of life for individuals with mental health conditions. This is done by providing access to resources and services that allow them to manage their symptoms more effectively.
- Enhances functioning. By providing stable ground, acute stabilization helps individuals perform better in school, work, or other areas of life. Having a plan for dealing with crises gives people a sense of control and greatly enhances their ability to function.
- Reduces stigma. Finally, providing acute stabilization reduces the stigma surrounding mental health issues. This approach emphasizes that mental illness is a treatable condition and that people can get better with the right support.
Acute stabilization is an important part of crisis intervention and should always be considered when individuals exhibit signs or symptoms of distress. To ensure appropriate treatment and long-term stability, evaluating the situation, offering emotional support, employing problem-solving methods, devising safety plans, and linking the person with extra care are crucial. Doing so leads to improved physical health, improved quality of life, enhanced functioning, and reduced stigma surrounding mental illness.