Advice: What to do in a mental health crisis

What is a mental health crisis?

NHS England describes a mental health crisis as when ‘you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation’.

You may feel extremely anxious, unable to cope with day-to-day life, have suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or you may be experiencing hallucinations or hearing voices.

NHS England highlights the importance of accessing expert help if you experience a sudden deterioration of an existing mental health problem.

Advice: What to do in a mental health crisis Credit: PA

Where can I get help in a mental health crisis?

The NHS has the following advice on what to do if you or someone you know experiences a mental health crisis:

  • Contact NHS 111: This is what you should do if you or someone you know requires urgent care, but it is not life threatening. For example, if you experience a mental health problem for the first time or you have an existing mental health problem and your symptoms get worse.

  • Book an emergency GP appointment: Your practice should be able to offer you an appointment in a crisis with the first available doctor.

  • Visit A&E or call 999: A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency. Many hospitals now have a liaison psychiatry team which is designed to bridge the gap between physical and mental health care. If this service isn’t available, the A&E team will contact the local on-call mental health services.

  • Crisis Line: If you’ve already been given a Crisis Line number from a health professional, call it. If you are under the care of a mental health team and have a specific care plan that states who to contact when you need urgent care, follow this plan.

The Samaritans also operate a service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence.

You can also find local support services here.