How to Support a Loved One in a Substance Use and/or Mental Health Crisis

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Mental health and/or substance use crises can affect anyone, including our friends and family. When a loved one is facing such challenges, it’s crucial to provide support, empathy, and access to appropriate resources. In Maryland, several organizations and services are dedicated to helping individuals and families navigate these difficult situations. 

Learn how you can support a loved one in a mental health and/or substance use crisis in Maryland and which organizations can provide assistance.

Recognize the Signs

The first step in supporting a loved one is recognizing the signs of a mental health and/or substance use crisis. These signs can vary depending on the individual and the specific crisis, but some common indicators include:

  • Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Sudden and extreme changes in behavior or mood.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and responsibilities.
  • Increased substance use or dependency.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns.

Initiate a Conversation

Approaching a loved one in crisis can be challenging, but starting a conversation is crucial. Choose a private, comfortable setting and express your concern in a calm manner and without judgment. Be an active listener and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings. Remember that your role is primarily to offer a listening ear, support, and understanding.

Encourage Professional Help

In many cases, professional assistance is necessary for individuals experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. Encourage your loved one to seek help from mental health professionals, therapists, or addiction specialists. If they are reluctant, offer to assist in finding suitable resources and making appointments.

Crisis Helplines

Several crisis helplines in Maryland can provide immediate support for individuals and their loved ones. Two prominent options are:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org. This national hotline connects individuals with crisis counselors who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health emergencies.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline: Dial 211 and press 1 for information, referral, and crisis intervention. This statewide helpline provides access to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They can assist with crisis intervention, provide information on local resources, and offer emotional support. 

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Maryland has several organizations that focus on mental health and/or substance use support. Here are a few:

  • NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness): NAMI Maryland offers resources, support groups, and education programs for individuals and families. They have local chapters throughout the state.
  • Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA): BHA oversees behavioral health services in Maryland and can connect you with resources, treatment options, and crisis support services.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment locator tool that can help you find nearby mental health and/or substance use treatment facilities.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of mental health and/or substance use services, contact the following local government organizations:

You can support your loved ones if they are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. Remember: Recognize the signs, initiate a conversation, and encourage professional help. Use crisis helplines and reach out to local organizations for guidance. Together, we can provide the necessary support and resources to help our loved ones on their path to recovery and better mental health.