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Thinking differently about mental health and wellbeing

What to do in a crisis

Sometimes the condition of the person you care for may suddenly deteriorate or worsen.

This may have been anticipated by the professionals involved with the person you care for but, even if it hasn’t, talking through the possibility with these professionals can help to calm your fears and provide a plan of action if things do worsen. If someone you know is having a mental health crisis the most important factor is to get help and support as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not this is the person’s first mental health crisis or a relapse of an existing mental health condition. If the emergency happens in normal working hours, you should get in touch with the GP, Social Worker or Community Psychiatric Nurse involved with the person you care for. They should be able to immediately advise on what to do. If the person you care for is known to the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and you believe that the a crisis is developing during normal office hours then the first point of contact would be to call the persons Care Coordinator, if they are unavailable it may be possible to talk to the Duty Worker. If you care for a person with mental health problems and they are on the Care Programme Approach, you should have an action plan which details who to contact if a crisis arises. It may be useful to:

  • To have a list of contacts and telephone numbers of who to call in a crisis
  • To have information about early warning signs of a persons potential relapse.

You and the person you care for may notice the early warning signs that indicate that their mental health is deteriorating and it can be useful to try and get support at this stage to help prevent a possible mental health crisis; although this is not always possible.

What should I do if the person in crisis is not known to the CMHT or if the crisis occurs outside office hours?

If the person you are concerned about is not known to mental health services, then the first port of call would be the persons GP; if you phone and the surgery is closed there should be a recorded message giving you an emergency contact. Alternatively you can call your local social services Emergency Duty Team.

If there is a crisis and the persons physical health is also at risk i.e. because of an overdose, injury, then go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department or dial 999 for an ambulance if necessary. 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.

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