Emergency mental health care is typically provided to those who are in danger of harming themselves or others. The nearest hospital is usually the best place to get emergency mental health care, as they are equipped to handle the situation until they can find a more long-term solution. Your therapist or a mental health helpline are also good options if you cannot make it to a hospital.
Types of mental health emergencies include those that create a threat to yourself or others, and those that cause you to become unable to care for your basic needs. If you, or someone close to you, experience these symptoms, it is important to seek emergency mental health care, at least until the threat has passed. If you experience a trauma, especially one that involves being the victim or a violent crime or tragedy, seeking immediate counseling can help reduce the risk of developing long-term emotional complications.
The first step in getting emergency mental health care is going to the nearest medical facility. A hospital is the best choice, but a mental health clinic is also acceptable. Tell the registration clerk that you are concerned that you may be threat to yourself or others, and they will typically take you to a private room in the emergency ward right away. If you are trying to help another person, let the medical team know your relationship to that person and as many details about the current threat as possible, including any talk of suicide or homicide.
If you have already have a therapist that you see regularly, and your emergency isn’t life-threatening, contact the office to find out if your therapist can fit you in that day. Many therapists are willing to rearrange their schedule to provide emergency mental health care, and some even have blocks of time set aside for such situations. If the situation does become potentially life threatening while waiting for your appointment, however, you should go directly to a hospital.
Crisis help lines are an option if patients require emergency mental health care but do not feel like you need to be seen by a professional right away. For example, if you are prone to panic attacks and you just need someone to talk to until you are able to calm down, a crisis line may be beneficial. The workers at the center can also direct you to additional help if you are trying to care for someone going through an emotional breakdown and are not certain who to contact. Keep in mind that most of the workers are volunteers, many of which have little to no mental health training, so they cannot offer you medical advice.