Crisis Contingency Plan

What can we do to support one of our companions during a mental health crisis?

This is a living document, which hopes to serve as a set of guidelines and resources to be able to respond to a crisis situation. It is by no means an exhaustive resource list nor do we think we will ever have all the answers. What we do know is that we need to support each other.

As a result of intersecting oppressions and varying circumstances, many members of our community are struggling with mental and physical health issues. While we are all striving to learn more about community support by engaging earnestly in this space, we would like for everyone to bear in mind that we are not a therapy clinic or a support group, and as of the time of writing this document, none of us living or participating in this space are really qualified to provide adequate care to someone undergoing a mental or physical health crisis.

We can support our comrades, provide some forms of care, help ensure that certain basic needs are met, and hear them out as friends. It is not and cannot be our responsibility as individuals to be their primary source for support, but it is on all of us to do what is right in times of crisis, and ensure that adequate support is on it’s way. Together.

People with mental health problems or even those who usually don’t struggle can sometimes experience a crisis, such as breaking down in tears, having a panic attack, feeling suicidal, or experiencing their own or a different reality .

When you are trying to support people in those moments, you may feel a sense of crisis too, but it’s important to stay calm yourself. Here are some general strategies that you can use to help:

  • Listen without making judgements and concentrate on their needs in that moment.
  • Ask them what would help them.
  • Reassure and signpost to practical information or resources.
  • Avoid confrontation- Do not make it about yourself. If it’s too personal and you cannot separate yourself enough to provide help, reach out to someone else for support.
  • Ask if there is someone they trust that they would like you to contact.
  • Encourage them to seek appropriate help and offer to assist in finding adequate additional support.
  • If they have hurt themselves, make sure they get the first aid they need.
  • Gently remind the person who you are and why you are there. Don’t reinforce or dismiss their experiences, and acknowledge how the symptoms are making them feel.

Remember: Seeing, hearing or believing things that are threatening to them which are not grounded on reality can be the symptom of a mental health crisis, but remember that you cannot make that assessment or diagnose anyone. It can be frightening and upsetting for you, but you cannot understand what they are going through. What you can do is listen to their experiences, work together with the community to find resources to help see that their needs are met and reduce potential harm.

How do I respond if someone is suicidal?

If someone tells you they are feeling suicidal or can’t go on, or if you suspect they are thinking of taking their own life, it is very important to encourage them to get help. You or they should contact their trusted doctor (if they have one) and/or people that they trust and are close to. Check for consent first though!

You can ask how they are feeling and let them know that you are available to listen. Talking can be a great help to someone who is feeling suicidal, but it may be distressing for you. It is important for you to talk to someone about your own feelings as well. When you’re having difficult conversations and supporting others, check in with yourself regarding your capacity and be honest about it! It helps a lot to ground yourself too. Literally, make sure that you are comfortable, that your feet are touching the ground and that your back is supported by something to feel supported.

It’s also really important that no single individual take the whole responsibility of care within the community. Talk to each other, and make a care plan together to ensure that your everyone who needs support is accompanied and having their basic needs met (maybe plan to cook together every day for a period of time, ensure they’re getting enough sleep, etc). Taking time off to recharge mentally and emotionally is key for people engaging regularly in the space, in order to avoid burnout. Being burnt out puts anyone who is struggling at risk of suicidal thoughts, so we have to be mindful!

Planning Ahead: Community Agreements

When we we come into a new space, we come with our own preconceived notions of community, how things should be, as well as with our own experiences, traumas and habits. Being an inclusive space means that all of these will differ, and we shouldn’t make assumptions or have rigid expectations.

Because we are all in different moments of our growth and our healing, it’s in the interest of the whole community to be transparent about what our struggles are; to hold back judgements; to share knowledge of emotional literacy and accessibility, as well as resources on the subject.

Likewise, it is our own responsibility to check ourselves and be self-aware enough to acknowledge gaps in our understanding or our capacity, to seek out support when we need it, and to continue learning and listening.

To this end, we are all collectively responsible for holding space for each other, and creating space for care practices to form and flourish. Meeting regularly, and fostering an environment of trust and emotional vulnerability is as important for our survival as is taking time to take care of the chores.

These things take time and effort, but once a culture of care is established, it becomes easier for new people joining in to keep the momentum, and over time we can be better prepared if a crisis should arise.

When new people come into the space, it’s important to make time to welcome them, get to know them and allow them to get to know us, and to talk about what they needs and struggles are. Not everyone will come with an access rider (or even know what that is!) or be sensitized to what our own needs might be.

By intentionally making it a priority to have these conversations we are normalizing a culture of care, and taking away the power of stigmatization and fear around mental health issues. This is our best hope at changing the narrative away from being queers in constant crisis, and towards a set of community agreements that will prepare us to be able to manage any crisis situation, and feel confident enough to show up for each other when needed, no matter how rough things might get.

Tips for talking about mental health

1. Set time aside with no distractions

It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space with no distractions.

2. Let them share as much or as little as they want to

Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage. You might be the first person they have been able to talk to about this.

3. Don’t try to diagnose or second-guess their feelings

You probably aren’t a medical expert and, while you may be happy to talk and offer support, you aren’t a trained counsellor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions.

4. Keep questions open ended

Say “Why don’t you tell me how you are feeling?” rather than “I can see you are feeling very low”. Try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions.

5. Talk about wellbeing

Exercise, having a healthy diet and taking a break can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing. Talk about ways of de-stressing and ask if they find anything helpful. Avoid making judgements, and ask if they would like suggestions, advice or help researching wellness options. Offer support in creating healthy habits and make proposals to do it collectively if possible! Remember that laughing and doing wholesome fun things is a part of wellness too.

6. Listen carefully to what they tell you

Repeat what they have said back to them to ensure you have understood it. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you hear them out even if you can’t fully understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings.

7. Offer them help in seeking professional support and provide information on ways to do this

You might want to offer to go the doctor with them, or help them talk to a friend or family member. Try not to take control and allow them to make decisions.

8. Know your limits

Ask for help or signpost if the problem is serious. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe.

9. Hold space for the person instead of offering unsolicited advice

If you feel that you have advice to give in a situation, ask them if they would like to hear it before offering it. Think deeply if this advice is truly pertinent to their situation, and frame it in such a way that it is clear that this comes from your own personal opinions and experiences. Instead, hold space for the person to b bale to process their feelings and assess their needs. Remember that you’re not there to “fix” them, but rather to offer support

Issue: Your partner just found out they lost their job.

Advice (fixing): “Good! You hated that place anyway. Your boss was a jerk. They didn’t pay you enough. Maybe you can ask your friends if there are any open positions where they’re at.”

Holding Space: “How did this come about? What do you think about this?”

Issue: Someone in the community said something to your friend that hurt their feelings and they told you.

Advice (fixing): That kid is a little brat. Don’t listen to what they say, they’re just jealous. I am going to call them out.”

Holding space: “honey, that must have been hurtful to hear. Sometimes our friends disappoint us. How do you feel? What would help you heal from this situation?”

Situation: A friend was just diagnosed with an illness.

Advice (fixing): “Don’t worry! You’re going to be fine. All you need to do is start (keto, veganism, yoga) It’s been healing everyone. I’ll send you some YouTube videos.”

Holding space: “This must feel so scary. What can I do for you?”

Useful organisations and resources

• National Emergency Lines

Emergency number: 112, or national suicide prevention hotline: 0800/111 0 111 or 0800/111 0 222

Les Migras

There is counceling regarding discrimination, police violence, violence in queer relationships and more stuff. There is a hotline we can call during the opening times. They know our project and the challenges within the space and sometimes can have someone come to help in person. They speak Many languages, too, but have limited capacity.

Hotline: 030 – 21 91 50 90

Öffnungszeiten: Montag Dienstag Mittwoch Donnerstag 14-17 Uhr 10-16 Uhr 14-17 Uhr 15-18 Uhr


Offers one on one and group councelling free of charge for Queer and Trans BIPoC in Berlin. There is a waiting list but they are quite nice and helpful, and have access to other resources which they are happy to share with us.

Reach Out

An organization that does monitoring of right wing attacks and other attacks. They also offer councelling for the people met with discriminations and friends/family, and have access to other resources too

Contact Tel.: 030 / 69 56 83 39 Mail:

Crisis Center

For some people it has been helpful but it is not always a good solution, as it is a state thing. It’s a place where people in acute crisis can go and speak with a crisis-care professional. They are qualified to offer and administer medication, but this can also not be so nice as they call the shots. We experienced difficulties in finding people there that spoke many languages and it was mostly white German, but it can definitely be better than nothing in an emergency! Better to go together with someone to support/advocate/translate

Telefon: 030 390 63 – 90 Karl-Marx-Straße 23 12043 Berlin


This is an anti-psychiatry space outside of Berlin with limited places free. It takes some time to get the stuff together and people cant be in danger or harming themselves or others, it is self organized by the people who live there. To access it one must be homeless, meaning not registered somewhere, and there is a waiting list, so it is not the most ideal in case of acute crisis

(confirm if it is still like this).
Postfach 280 427 D-13444 Berlin
Telefon: +49 (30) 406 321 46 Telefax: +49 (30) 406 321 47 info (at)

Other important information and resources

If you are a person residing in or visiting this community space and you struggle with your physical and mental health, it is advisable that you communicate about your experiences with someone else in the space. Ideally, we would all be mindful and aware of each other, but it’s okay to start with one or two people and them open up as you build trust in the group. It’s important for the general wellbeing of the community that we communicate about our health with one another, so we encourage everyone to talk about mental health whilst in a stable enough point and express things that would be important to know such as conditions, ailments, triggers, or fill in a Crisis Plan worksheet.

Accompanying this document are several zines, manuals and handouts that we think are relevant to help alleviate and prevent crisis situations. You can find the digital version of some of these bellow. We would like to continue expanding this list, so please submit any suggestions or recommendations via email or telegram group!

Madness and Oppression Guide (pdf)

Self As Other: Reflections on Self Care (pdf)

Mapping our Madness Zine
(new release download)

Crisis as an Opportunity for Growth and Change

Strategies for Coping When You’re Hearing Voices

Navigating Crisis Handout (download)

Access Riders: What are they, and how can I make one?

Personal Crisis Plan -Advance Directive (pdf)

13 Steps for Managing Emotional Flashbacks

Harm Reduction Is Not A Metaphor: Living in the 21st Century with Drugs, Sex and Activism

Harm Reduction Zines P. 1

Crisis Workbook Model

Cats can also help!