Getting help in a crisis - Getting help
How do I get help from professional services?
Professional services can help people with mental health problems and offer care and treatment. If your relative is already in touch with mental health services, these services may already know about some of their problems.
Professional services include:
Crisis teams are part of mental health services. They can support people who are having a mental health crisis in the community (for example, in their own home). There should be a crisis team in every area which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may not be able to get to your relative straight away if they are very busy.
The team should make a care plan. This helps to make sure your relative has the right treatment and support to get through the crisis. They may:
- offer medication,
- arrange regular visits to check they are okay, and
- make sure they are in touch with other services to get long-term support.
This is to try and stop them needing to go into hospital. But your relative might still need to go to hospital if they are very unwell.
Accident and emergency (A&E)
You could take your relative to the accident and emergency (A&E) or casualty department of the local hospital. You can also do this if they need help for physical injuries (such as self harm, injury or overdose).
A&E can assess your relative and may arrange for a duty psychiatrist to see them. The psychiatrist can do a more thorough assessment. Your relative could get admitted to a mental health ward in hospital. A&E departments often have long waiting times. The waiting areas can be stressful.
Emergency services (999)
If your relative is at risk of harming themselves or others then you can contact the emergency services on 999. They may contact mental health services such as the crisis team. If an ambulance is called but the staff may be at risk, then the police might come with them.
Community mental health teams (CMHTs)
Community mental health teams (CMHTs) support people who have complex or serious mental health problems in the community. They are usually only available during office hours on weekdays.
Your relative may already be in touch with the CMHT. If so, they may have a care coordinator who you can contact if the crisis develops during office hours. If this person is not available, then you can ask to speak to the duty worker. They will be responsible for responding to urgent needs that cannot wait.
If your relative is under the Care Programme Approach (CPA), they should have a crisis plan. This should say who to get in touch with or a list of numbers to contact in crisis. If you don’t already have a copy of your relative’s care plan, it might help to ask them for one. This could help if they go into crisis again in the future.
A CMHT may only help if your relative’s GP has already passed their details to them. This is called a referral. If your relative has never been referred to a CMHT you can try asking their GP for help. We have explained this below.
If you are not sure of your relative’s local CMHT details, you can ask your relative’s GP surgery. You can also check the website of the local NHS trust.
You could take your relative to their GP. A GP won’t be able to offer direct help, but they may be able to contact other teams such as the crisis team.
Most GPs have a 24 hour ‘out of hours’ telephone number that you can contact.
Some GPs will not help unless your relative asks for help themselves. This can cause problems if your relative does not realise they are unwell or does not want professional help. If this happens, then you might have to try other options for getting professional help.
You can call NHS 111 when you need medical help but it’s not a 999 emergency. Call 111 if:
- you think your relative needs to go to accident and emergency (A&E) or needs help from a crisis team,
- you don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call, or
- you need health information or reassurance about what to do next.
You can click on the following topics to find out more information about them:
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Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays