for better mental health

Crisis services and planning for a crisis

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.

When should I make an emergency GP appointment?

If you need urgent support for your mental health, but you feel able to keep yourself safe for a short while until your appointment.

How could it help me?

An emergency appointment involves seeing a doctor quickly – usually the first appointment with an available doctor. If it's not with your regular GP and you'd like to see them too, you can ask your surgery about booking a follow-up appointment.

What might happen at the appointment?

In your appointment, the doctor might:

  • ask about what's happening for you currently, including your moods, thoughts, behaviours and any recent events that have contributed to you feeling in crisis
  • provide information and advice, for example, about other local services you can contact yourself
  • prescribe or adjust medication, which might be to help you cope with symptoms you're experiencing or to try to reduce side effects that are contributing to how you're feeling
  • refer you for more support, for example to a crisis team (CRHT) or potentially for hospital admission.

(For more information on talking to a GP, what might happen at the appointment and whether it's confidential, see our guide to seeking help for a mental health problem.)

How can I access it?

If you need an emergency appointment, you should be offered one as quickly as possible – although you might be asked to wait for a doctor to call you back before being given an appointment time. You can go to a doctor's surgery in person to ask for an appointment, but they won't usually be able to see you straight away – so it's often best to contact them before going in.

If you need an appointment outside regular opening hours, you might see a doctor at your nearest surgery or you might be asked to visit another surgery in your local area.

You can get urgent help from any GP surgery without being registered as a patient, although you might need to register as a temporary patient if you need treatment over more than 24 hours.

Emergency GP appointments in England

To access this service in England, you can:

  • contact your local GP surgery. You can find GP surgeries on the NHS website. If the surgery is closed, you should hear a recorded message explaining what to do, or you can call 111 instead.
  • call 111, a free 24-hour NHS helpline that can help you access local services including GPs. Find out more about this service, including options for people with hearing difficulties, on the NHS website.

Emergency GP appointments in Wales

To access this service in Wales, you can:

  • contact your local GP surgery. You can find GP surgeries on the NHS Direct Wales website. If the surgery is closed, you should hear a recorded message explaining what to do, or you can use the options below instead
  • contact your local out-of-hours service. To find their details, see the Health in Wales website
  • call 111, a free 24-hour NHS helpline available in some areas of Wales. Find out more about this service, including where this service is available and options for people with hearing difficulties, on the NHS 111 website
  • call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47, a 24-hour NHS helpline available in areas of Wales where NHS 111 isn't available. The service can help you access local services, including GPs. Find out more about this service, including call charges and options for people with hearing difficulties, on the NHS 111 website.

This information was published in October 2018. We will revise it in 2021.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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