Crisis services and planning
This guide explains what mental health crisis services are available, how they can help and when to access them. It also explains how you can plan for a crisis. If you're feeling in crisis right now, see our emergency advice.
What's a mental health crisis?
A mental health crisis is when you feel at breaking point, and you need urgent help. You might be:
- feeling extremely anxious and having panic attacks or flashbacks
- feeling suicidal, or self-harming
- having an episode of hypomania or mania, (feeling very high) or psychosis (maybe hearing voices, or feeling very paranoid).
You might be dealing with bereavement, addiction, abuse, money problems, relationship breakdown, workplace stress, exam stress, or housing problems. You might be managing a mental health diagnosis. Or you might not know why you're feeling this way now.
Planning for a mental health crisis
Nobody plans to be in crisis. You might not like the idea of planning for something you hope won't happen. But it could help to think about what you could do if you start to feel in crisis in the future, and what kind of support might help.
What crisis services are there?
Exploring different types of support might be something you feel able to do at less difficult times. There’s no wrong order to try things in – different things work for different people at different times. But some types of support might be more suitable for you, or more easily available.
Most of the guys at my local crisis team are brilliant. Even when they've already seen me in A&E three times that week it still feels as important.
Going to A&E (999)
If your life is at risk, you need an emergency service. A&E departments are open 24 hours a day and anyone can visit them free of charge.
Emergency GP appointments
Your local GP surgery should offer you an appointment quickly if you need urgent support. You don't need to be registered as a patient already.
Helplines and listening services
Helplines provide trained listeners and often have other options for getting in touch, like email, text messaging or web chat.
Getting treatment in hospital
During a crisis, staying in hospital might be the best way to keep you safe and provide you with the level of treatment you need.
Crisis teams (CRHTs)
Crisis teams support people who might otherwise need to go to hospital. They can support you during a crisis if you're already under their care.
Crisis houses offer intensive, short-term support in a residential setting.
Listen to Rachel talking about her experience of going through times of crisis with her mental health, and the different crisis services she accessed for support.
Issues with crisis care services
Excellent crisis services do exist. But unfortunately not everyone gets the care, support and respect they need during a crisis. Some services aren't available in all areas or don't provide a good enough standard of care.