Mental Health Check Pt 4: 3 Keys To Responding To Crisis In Chat

-Make a plan

-Keep resources on deck

-Handle it in the chat.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a streamer is building authentic connections with fans in your chat. A lot of fans enjoy building those connections as well, and it can be a lot of fun when we all feel comfortable enough with each other to talk about our own lives and such. Unfortunately, sometimes, that sort of comfortability can lead to fans unloading about their personal life, their mental health, and even make threats to their own health/lives, or even the lives of others. So, naturally, we need to be prepared. In this article, we’re going to discuss how to make a plan to handle this, what kind of resources to keep on hand, and how to gently handle the situation in the chat.

Before we dig into all of this, a couple of general disclaimers here. First of all, it is worth stating, generally speaking, streamers are not qualified mental health professionals. Some things are best left to the pros, and the mental health and wellbeing of your community is one of them. Secondly, every stream and every audience are different, so feel free to mix up your approach to find the best fit for you.

The most important component to an effective response to mental health situations arising in your chat is to have a plan to respond. Make sure you communicate this plan with every one of your mods, so that you can have a consistent, effective approach, no matter who is around. Make sure your team knows where to find the resources, and how to approach the chatters. We’ll go into more detail about those bits in a moment. Don’t forget to discuss with your mod team what worked and what didn’t after every time you have an incident.

It is also critical to have commonly needed resources at your fingertips. At minimum, you should have a crisis intervention hotline available. We recommend https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for calls and web messaging, as well as https://www.crisistextline.org/ for text, whatsapp, or messenger conversations. From there, add as many resources as you can think of, focusing especially on your audience demographics. If you need help finding resources, check out the bot in our pinned posts in the #nerd-health section of our Discord. Remember, it’s always better to have more than you need available, than to not have what you need in the moment. 

The biggest impact you can make comes down to how you respond. Now, every situation is very different, so it’s impossible to give you a one-sentence answer on this, but there are a few universal tips that will help. Be genuine. Be kind and compassionate. But most importantly–where necessary–let them know that you are not a mental health professional, and redirect them to a resource.

To hopefully help with some more specific issues, here’s some more specific scenarios, along with some words that work. These are merely suggestions, so feel free to adjust the wording to be more authentic to you, and to make sense in your stream.

  • For a viewer who is just having a rough day and venting/negging out in chat:
    • “I’m sorry you’re dealing with that right now. Hopefully the positive vibes we have here will make you feel better! Just relax, try to take your mind off it, and have fun with us!”
  • For a viewer who is dumping really heavy stuff on you, or the first example doesn’t get them to stop negging out the chat:
    • “That must be tough to deal with. I do care about you, but unfortunately, I’m not a mental health professional, so I don’t know that I’m able to really help you. Hey Mods, can you send our friend here some resources to help them out?”
  • For a viewer who is experiencing an extreme mental health crisis, including threatening to harm themselves and/or others:
    • “I’m so sorry you are feeling like that. We love and care about you, and want you here for the next stream too. Unfortunately, I am not a mental health care professional, but I want to make sure you get the help you need. Mods, can we get some crisis resources for our friend here?”

Now, we could make a ten part series about more specific examples, but I think these few can be adapted to most situations. If you look at the above examples, you can see that we were genuine, were kind and compassionate, and we redirected their attention where it needed to be.

Now, it’s worth noting here that you can not control their personal situation. All you can really do is show them genuine kindness, and point them in the direction to get help. From there, 100% of the outcome of the situation falls upon them. So, if you’ve done that, you can rest easy knowing you have done what you were able to do. These people are not your responsibility, so don’t take that burden on your mental health. But hey, kindness is free! That we can do!

One of the hardest things we encounter as content creators are responding to viewers who come to us with heavy issues. How we respond is key; not only to them, but to our own mental health as well. In this article, we discussed creating a response plan, finding resources, and responding to viewers with genuine kindness and compassion, while redirecting them to more appropriate resources. Have you dealt with this in your stream? We’d love to hear about your experience. Tell us in the #nerd-health channel in our Discord! Not already a member? Grab the links to our communities at NerdsBelongHere.com! And as always, stay tuned to this blog for more great tips and tricks!

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