How to get Help

Urgent mental healthcare

If a person's mental or emotional state gets worse quickly, this can be called a mental health emergency or mental health crisis. In this situation, it's important to get help quickly to stop the person harming themselves or others.

Mental health emergencies can include:

  • threats of suicide or self-harm
  • self-neglect, such as stopping eating or drinking
  • aggressive behaviour
  • being extremely distressed 
  • going missing

In an emergency, you may need to contact someone for help. The care plan of the person you care for (usually drawn up under the Care Programme Approach if they have severe mental health problems) should contain details of who to contact in a mental health emergency.

If this isn't in their care plan, call their GP first. For urgent advice or treatment when your GP surgery is closed contact NHS111

If the person is known to the community mental health assessment and recovery team (CMHART), it is likely that they will have an assigned care co-ordinator or mental health worker. Contact them or, if you need urgent help out of hours, you should be able to speak to a duty worker, usually on the same number.

If you cannot find who to contact, your local social services has a mental health crisis team, which is available both in and out of hours. Contact details will be available through your local council. 

If you think there is any immediate danger, call 999.

If the person you care for has written something on Facebook about struggling to cope or suicide and you can't contact them, you can report the suicidal content to Facebook. Facebook will put Samaritans in touch with the distressed friend to offer their expert support.

How to cope in a mental health emergency

A mental health crisis can be very distressing, even if you've already been through one with the person you care for. If you're struggling to cope, you could contact a crisis support service such as Samaritans.

If you feel you are in immediate danger, go somewhere you feel safe, such as a friend or relative's house.

It's a good idea to prepare for a mental health emergency before one happens. Having a care plan in place with 24-hour contact numbers will be very helpful. Find out more about getting a care plan. In the meantime, keep any numbers for out-of-hours services or crisis teams where you can easily find them.

Ask for a carers' assessment for yourself so you can make sure your caring duties are covered if you have an emergency and are unable to fulfil your usual caring role.

Carer emergency schemes

If a carer becomes ill, has an accident or personal crisis such as a funeral, a transport delay or a last-minute appointment, they may be unable to carry out their caring duties. An emergency plan will outline what should happen in this event and who will ensure the person cared for is safe. This could be a husband, wife, friend or neighbour, for example.

Emergency schemes are often run by your local authority or carers' centre. A typical scheme simply involves registering and having skilled workers help you draw up your emergency plans.

The scheme will keep a copy of the plan and provide a 24-hour response service. You'll be given a card with the scheme's telephone number and often a unique PIN number to avoid any personal details appearing on the card. In an emergency, you or someone with you can call the scheme to put the plan into action.

The telephone operator will look up the individual emergency plan and arrange for replacement care, such as contacting friends or family, or arranging professional help.

Emergency plans are shared so that the individual requirements of the person needing care, such as medication, will be known by whoever provides replacement care.

What happens to someone after a mental health crisis?

Most people who have been through a mental health crisis will receive standard hospital treatment and may leave whenever they choose. Any aftercare may be carried out in the community. However, this will depend on the severity of the crisis and the person's previous history. If a hospital stay is required and their behaviour is considered dangerous, they may be compulsorily detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. You can read more about this in the section on mental health.

Useful National Helplines & websites

Whether you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, these helplines can offer expert advice.

Mental health

Beat - Beating eating disorders

Phone: 0845 634 1414 (Mon-Thurs, 1.30pm-4.30pm)


Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)


Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.



CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.


Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.



Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline) 



Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness. 

Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)

SANEmail email:



Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)


The Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.



Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)



Young suicide prevention society.

Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm)


OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Action

Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)



A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)


No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.

Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)


Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence)


Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.

Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)

0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)



Advice on dealing with domestic violence.

Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)


Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling)

Alcoholics Anonymous

Phone: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)


Narcotics Anonymous

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily until midnight)


Gamblers Anonymous



Alzheimer's Society

Provides information on dementia, including factsheets and helplines.

Phone: 0300 222 1122 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. Weekends, 10am-4pm)



Cruse Bereavement Care

Phone: 0844 477 9400 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)


Crime victims 

Find your local helpline at:

Rape Crisis

Phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12pm-2.30pm, 7pm-9.30pm)


Victim Support

Phone: 0845 30 30 900 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm. Weekends, 9am-7pm)


Learning disabilities


Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.

Phone: 0808 808 1111 (for information on their services)



Family Lives

Phone: 0808 800 2222 (daily, 7am-midnight)



Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)




Phone: 0300 100 1234 (for information on their services)