If you’re in crisis, please reach out to a crisis line or go to your nearest emergency room.

What to do in a mental health crisis

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If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you should not wait for a therapy appointment. There are immediate actions you can take to keep yourself and others safe. You have three options to get support when you or a loved one is in crisis:

 

1. Go to the emergency room

The emergency room (ER) is a great place to go when someone needs further evaluation or urgent treatment like stabilizing medication. 

When someone goes to the ER during a mental health crisis, they may have to wait some time to be seen. Then, a mental health team will conduct an evaluation to get an idea of what the person needs in the moment. This could be crisis counseling, medication, or referrals for mental health services to follow up with later. If the team believes this person may be at risk of hurting themselves or others then they will hospitalize them. Only 20-30% of ER visits result in hospitalization.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, visits to the ER may be a little different. Check out this tip sheet from Mental Health America on how to prepare for a visit.

 

2. Reach out to a crisis line

Crisis lines are great places to call or text when you’re in a mental health crisis. The trained volunteers at crisis lines can help you calm down, provide referrals for local mental health services, and talk through different options. 

Below are a few crisis lines that we recommend. Though all of these offer support to people during a crisis, there are some differences between them. Some offer special support for members of certain groups. Some offer support in different languages. 

If you’re not sure which crisis line to go with, we recommend starting with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or Crisis Text Line. If the first place you call or text isn’t helpful, try another one or try one of the options above. 

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a national network of crisis centers that provides support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. 
    • Call (English): 800-273-8255 (24/7)
    • Call (Spanish): 800-628-9454 (24/7)
    • Call (Deaf or Hard of Hearing): 800-799-4889 (24/7)
  • Crisis Text Line
    • The Crisis Text Line is available for any crisis. A live Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, helping people move from a hot moment to a cool moment. 
    • Text: HOME to 741741 (24/7)
  • TrevorLifeline
    • TrevorLifeline is a crisis intervention and suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth.
    • Call: 866-488-7386 (24/7)
    • Text: START to 678-678 (24/7)
  • Trans Lifeline
    • Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer support service run by trans people, for trans and questioning callers. This line is for anyone who is in crisis or needs someone to talk to.
    • Call: 877-565-8860 (24/7)
  • BlackLine
    • BlackLine provides a space for peer support, counseling, witnessing and affirming the lived experiences to folxs who are most impacted by systematic oppression with an LGBTQ+ Black Femme Lens.
    • Call or Text: 800-604-5841 (24/7)
  • Teenline
    • Support from teens for teens. No problem is too big or too small.
    • Call: 800-852-8336 (6pm to 10pm Pacific Time)
    • Text: TEEN 839863 (6pm to 9pm Pacific Time)

 

3. Call 911

Police can help with de-escalating a situation, ensuring physical safety, and transporting individuals in crisis to a nearby hospital for evaluation and treatment. In some areas, there are police or other first responders who are specially trained to respond to a mental health crisis. 

Unfortunately, not all police know how to respond to a mental health crisis. Sometimes calling 911 results in injury, trauma, or death for the person in crisis. The risk is higher when the person is Black or Latino/Hispanic. Visit dontcallthepolice.com to find local alternatives to calling the police.

If you do call 911, make sure to explain that you’re calling about a mental health crisis and describe what you’re seeing so police are prepared when they arrive. The Treatment Advocacy Center provides more helpful tips here about calling 911.


Once you or your loved one are out of crisis, you should look for longer-term support. You can search our directory for affordable mental health supports and services.

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