If you are currently feeling suicidal or are worried about somebody else, click here for information on how to get support in a mental health crisis.
What is a Mental Health Crisis?
Having a mental health crisis can mean different things to different people. It’s important to remember that mental health issues are not cookie cutter, and that they can vary. They can include:
- Having suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide;
- Doing something that might put yourself or someone else at risk;
- Having an episode of psychosis that is different or more severe than previous episodes that you or someone you care about might suffer with (or if you/they have never had one before).
There are times that friends and family can help you when you feel you are in crisis or are heading in that direction, so always reach out to someone around you, but it is important to understand when and where to get support from professionals if you need them, and who to go to.
How do I get help?
Firstly, it’s incredibly brave of you to get this far. Asking for support is not a weakness, and requires a lot of strength from anyone who feels they are in crisis.
There are various avenues you can go to for help, from the NHS, to counsellors and charities. This will explain the routes you can take so you can make a choice about what you feel is best. If you are already under the care of a counsellor or the local crisis team it can be a good idea to start with them but don’t delay seeking help if there will be a delay in speaking to them.
NHS Crisis Teams
Crisis teams are nothing to be scared of, even though the name might sound a little daunting. They are part of the Mental Health Services provided in your area, and the NHS hopes to have one in every area of the UK by 2021.
They can do plenty of things to support you including prescribing emergency medication, arrange regular check-ins to make sure you or the person you are helping are doing OK and help you to organise longer term support. You can find the number for the one in your area through 111 or from your GP.
There are sure to be plenty of counsellors or counselling services in your area that cater to different specialities, issues and budgets. You may find it is quicker to get an appointment from a private practitioner, meaning you will have to pay. However, if this is an issue for you then you can refer yourself or get a referral from your GP for NHS counselling services. There may be a waiting list for these and the length of wait time varies from area to area.
If you feel you cannot wait to talk to someone, try to get an emergency appointment with your GP, contact your local NHS crisis team or a charitable organisation in the meantime.
There are lots of charitable organisations that work with mental health and are great at dealing with a mental health crisis. You can download a list here of numbers and links that can support you – keep it on your phone in case you need it.
You might feel like dialling 999 is not for you, but emergency services regularly respond to mental health crises.
If you feel like you are at serious risk of harming yourself or others, dialling 999 is the best option. If the operator feels there may be additional danger, a police officer may come with them to do a welfare check; this is basically checking that you are safe. The key thing is to not be scared. Everyone is there to help you or someone you care about, and these people have the training to keep you and those you love safe.
How do I get help for others?
You can use any of the services above to help a person you care about who is having a mental health crisis.
Alternatively, you can also take them to your local A&E department in your local hospital.
You can also go to your GP for yourself or for someone you care about, and ask them what the best course of action would be. It is likely they will arrange a phone call for you or your relative where you/they will be asked about what symptoms you/they are experiencing and they can assess the need for treatment, counselling, medication and more.
What do I do if I struggle to get help?
Sometimes, local mental health and medical services can be busy and oversubscribed. This does not mean that you don’t deserve help or that you should give up seeking it. You can talk to charitable organisations any time, and they will offer an ear of support during a troubling time.
Equally, there are private counselling services that are usually less oversubscribed than free ones, and some will offer really flexible rates in order to make sure that no one falls through the net. Google something like “low cost counselling in (your area)” to see what’s available in your area and find one that suits both your needs and your budget. Most counselling / therapy practices will not mind you asking if they provide this or if they know someone locally that does.