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Applying de-escalation techniques
Woman looking distressed
© Source: CQUniversity Mind Waves Mental Health Strategy, 2018.

Positive Body Language:

  • Personal space – do not stand too close
  • Do not stand in front of the casualty, standing to the side is less threatening neutral body language.

How you should appear during a crisis:

  • Try and appear calm, and self-assured
  • Try and use a low, slow and calm tone of voice
  • Do not be defensive
  • Remember you can leave the situation at any time and call for help
  • Try and be as respectful as you can while being firm.

Remember – Trying to reason with someone going through a crisis is not possible. As the person who is trying to defuse the situation it is important that we show calmness even if we are frightened.

Physically you should:

  • Never turn your back on a casualty
  • Try and be at the same eye level as the casualty
  • Try not to physically crowd them
  • Try not to keep constant eye contact
  • It is best not to smile.

Options for assistance

Emergency situations:

  • Ambulance
  • Police
  • Mental Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team, also sometimes known as the CAT Team or CATT at your local hospital.

For non-emergent cases there are:

  • Mental health professionals
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Helplines, websites, written resources.

Things to remember:

  • Do not point or make any aggressive hand gestures
  • Do not touch the casualty even if you think it is appropriate
  • Keep your body language open
  • Remember you are trying to calm the situation, don’t scream or yell back at the casualty
  • Do not answer abusive questions at all
  • Explain limits and information calmly and respectfully
  • Do not be judgmental or argue
  • Empower the casualty
  • Do not agree with the behaviour
  • Trust your instincts.


Do you have any helpful management tips when dealing with clients suffering from mental disorders?

© Source: CQUniversity Mind Waves Mental Health Strategy, 2018.
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