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Hierarchy of Needs: Where Do I Turn During a Crisis?

28 Mar. 2017 Posted by ameulendyke

Marcia O’Boyle, FEI EAP Services Center Manager

A crisis can be defined as the turning point for better or worse, and is often applied to a difficult or dangerous situation requiring serious attention. While the range of scenarios someone might describe as crises is robust, existential needs are always the first priority.

Are you familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It is usually described as a pyramid, with the most basic needs serving as the foundation and “higher order” needs ascending until they reach self-actualization at the pyramid’s top. Although there is some debate over how much each level depends on another, or if the order of levels can change, the five main levels of the hierarchy are generally understood to be:

  • Biological and Physiological Needs (Bottom): Air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex and sleep.
  • Safety Needs: Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability and freedom from fear.
  • Love and Belongingness Needs: Friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Also affiliation, or being part of a group (family, friends and work).
  • Esteem Needs: Achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect and respect from others.
  • Self-Actualization Needs (Top): Realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Even though all levels are important, life itself is threatened if one does not have air, food, shelter and safety. In a crisis, these basic needs may be in jeopardy. Where do you turn?

On an individual basis, people often will turn first to family, friends, clergy or charitable organizations. On a larger scale, people might seek assistance from government, law enforcement or social services. But sometimes we need more.

A great resource is the 2-1-1 service. Here is some information from their website: “2-1-1 is available throughout the U.S. and in many parts of Canada by phone, text and web. A toll-free call to 2-1-1 connects you to a community resource specialist in your area who can help you find services and resources that are available to you locally and provide critical services that can improve—and save—lives.”

With 2-1-1, people can learn about such topics as supplemental food and nutrition programs, shelter and housing options and utilities assistance, emergency information and disaster relief as well as more direct services like employment and education opportunities, services for veterans, and addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs, among others.

If you would like to learn more about available resources before, during and after a crisis, contact your employee assistance program or crisis management provider today.


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