What to do in a crisis

Help and advice in a mental health emergency

If a person's mental or emotional state gets worse quickly, this can be called a mental health crisis or a mental health emergency.

It may be a person's first mental health crisis or a relapse of an existing mental health condition.

Mental health crises may be one of these:

  • suicidal behaviour or intention
  • panic attacks / extreme anxiety
  • psychotic episodes (loss of sense of reality, hallucinations, hearing voices)
  • other behaviour that seems out of control or irrational and that is likely to endanger the person or others

In a crisis situation, it's important to get help quickly.


If there is an immediate risk

If you, or someone you know, are in immediate danger of serious harm (for example, if someone has taken an overdose) call 999 for an ambulance immediately. Give as much information as possible to the operator and be as clear as you can when giving your address and telephone number.

If there is a risk of physical violence, or if the person is at risk of self harm or of causing harm to someone else, it may be necessary to contact the police

People already receiving treatment for mental ill health

If the person having a mental health crisis is already getting treatment and support for their mental ill health they will have a care plan. In this care plan will be the numbers you can call in an emergency.

People without a care plan, or if you can't find it

Phone your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment. If you phone and the surgery is closed there should be a recorded message giving you an emergency contact number to call
phone your mental health worker or care co-ordinator if you have one
go to the accident and emergency department at your local hospital if there has been an injury or another physical health problem

Our crisis team staff work closely with emergency departments to make sure that people can be treated for a mental health illness where needed.

If you need someone to talk to

If you want to call someone about how you feel or how you deal with someone else's behaviour, you could contact NHS 111 or the Samaritans.

NHS 111

Telephone: 111

Textphone: 18001 111

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. More information is available here.


The Samaritans

Telephone: 08457 90 90 90
Textphone: 08457 90 91 92
The Samaritans offer a 24-hour confidential telephone helpline. You can also contact them via email or write to them.

Mental Health Matters helpline

Tel: 0845 045 7110, 5pm-9am, 24 weekends
Tel: 0800 052 7350, 6pm-6am
Redcar and Cleveland
Tel: 0800 052 0658, 6pm-6am
Tel: 0800 052 7349, 6pm-6am