If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, you should get immediate expert advice and assessment.
It's important to know that support is available, even if services seem busy at the moment because of coronavirus.
NHS urgent mental health helplines
NHS urgent mental health helplines are for people of all ages.
You can call for:
- 24-hour advice and support – for you, your child, your parent or someone you care for
- help to speak to a mental health professional
- an assessment to help decide on the best course of care
If you've already been given a crisis line number to use in an emergency, it's best to call it.
If you just need to talk, any time of day or night
Free listening services
These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can talk about anything that's troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: email@example.com for a reply within 24 hours
- Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19
Coping during a crisis
The mental health charity Mind has information on ways to help yourself cope during a crisis.
This includes calming exercises and a tool to get you through the next few hours.
Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if:
- you are not able to speak to your local NHS urgent mental health helpline
- you need help urgently for your mental health, but it's not an emergency
- you're not sure what to do
111 will tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.
You may be able to speak to a nurse, or mental health nurse, over the phone.
A GP can advise you about helpful treatments and also help you access mental health services. You may be able to refer yourself to some services.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- someone's life is at risk – for example, they have seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose
- you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one. You will not be wasting anyone's time.
How a mental health emergency is treated in A&E
If you go to A&E, the staff should treat you with respect and look after any immediate physical and mental health needs.
They should also refer you to a liaison psychiatry service or local crisis resolution and home treatment team (CRHT).
Find out about:
- liaison psychiatry services on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website
- crisis resolution and home treatment teams (CRHTs) on the Mind website
The team in charge of your care will assess you and decide on the best course of care.
This usually involves supporting you with your mental health at home. They may also refer you to other services to support your needs.
Making a safety plan
If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or are supporting someone else, it may help to make a safety plan to use if you need it:
Page last reviewed: 6 April 2020
Next review due: 6 April 2023