​​​Crisis can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or economic background. Sudden or extreme situations such as a death or rapid change can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, sending them into crisis. As such, the definition of what is considered a crisis differs from person to person.

As a person experiences crisis, they may display feelings of denial, shock, or anger and express feelings of helplessness. They might also complain of difficulties in breathing, lethargy, pain, sleep and appetite changes.

A severely distressed person may experience hallucinations, have suicidal thoughts, pose a danger to self or others, or show impaired daily functioning. In these cases, professional help is recommended and there are many resources in the community. General Practitioners (GPs), Family Service Centres (FS Cs), school or company counsellors, and helplines like the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS : 1800-221-4444) can serve as a first-stop. If necessary, the person may be referred to IMH/WH for further help.

While it is a fact that crisis can happen to anyone, we need to acknowledge that

  • Everyone can be affected by a crisis, but may react differently in their own ways
  • Everyone can recover from a crisis, but at their own pace
  • Everyone is capable of attending to and helping another person in distress
  • Caregivers need to take care of themselves as well, while caring for the person in distress

  • Don’t blame, invalidate, belittle or mock what the person is going through.
  • Give the person some space to process their emotions and circumstance.
  • Allow for the person to recover at their own pace.
  • When speaking, lower your tone of voice and ensure that your body language is non-confrontational and receptive.
  • Practise active listening. You may try to identify and reflect the person’s emotion e.g. " I sense that you are feeling helpless about what has just happened."
  • Calm yourself down first. The person is likely to mirror your calmness, and calm down too.

Dealing with a crisis