Crisis services

A guide explaining what mental health crisis services are available, how they can help and when to access them. Also provides guidance on how you can plan for a crisis.

Your stories

In crisis: my experience

In time for the release of the CQC's Mental Health Act report,Claire blogs about her experience of crisis care

Claire
Posted on 28/01/2014

How going to A&E helped me

Caroline blogs about how a visit to A&E helped her to realise she needed help.

Caroline
Posted on 27/11/2013

Could telephone support help me?

This page covers the following kinds of telephone support:

Using telephone services can be a good way to get help in a time of crisis, particularly as they can often provide out-of-hours support. Talking to an adviser on the phone can help you make sense of your situation and work out possible solutions.

Things to consider when using telephone services

Before contacting a telephone support service, it might be useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I do if I can't get through straight away? Some lines might be busy when you first call, or aren't available 24 hours a day, so it's worth planning how you will handle this. For example, you could keep trying, call back at a quieter time, or try another service in the meantime.
  • Will everything I tell the adviser be confidential? If you're worried about sharing sensitive information you can ask the adviser to explain their confidentiality policy at the beginning of your call. Many services have policies in place to keep you safe if you tell the adviser you have attempted or are planning to attempt suicide.
  • What will the call cost? Some telephone services might charge different rates depending on whether you call from a landline or a mobile, and what your phone package includes. If you're worried about the possible cost you can ask the adviser to explain the rates at the beginning of the call, or research them on the service's website before dialling.
  • Can I access this service another way? If you don't feel up to talking on the phone, some telephone services also offer support via email or text message. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking, you could consider using the Next Generation Text Service (NGTS) Typetalk/Text Relay app on your mobile device or computer.
  • Do I need a translator? Some services can arrange a translation service if English isn't your first language, or if you use British Sign Language (BSL). If you ask about translation when you make the call, the adviser will let you know if a translation service is available, and if it costs anything to use.

I saw the number of a charity crisis line (similar to Samaritans), phoned and someone listened and had time [for me], which actually helped me.

Listening and emotional support services

Listening services can help you talk through your emotions and give you confidential, non-judgemental support. With many listening services, the person you speak to will let you talk through your problems for as long as you need.

When can they help?

If you're really struggling with difficult feelings right now and need to talk to someone immediately, but you aren't ready or able to access emergency support.

Who can I call?

  • Samaritans. Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to listen to anything that is upsetting you, including intrusive thoughts and difficult thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Their national freephone number is 116 123, or you can email jo@samaritans.org. Samaritans also offer a Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (from 7pm–11pm only, seven days a week).
  • SANEline. SANEline offers emotional support and information from 6pm–11pm, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0300 304 7000.
  • The Silver Line. If you're an older person (over the age of 55), the Silver Line is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide information, support and friendship. You can call them from anywhere in the UK on 0800 4 70 80 90 (freephone).
  • CALM. If you're a man experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They're open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you're not comfortable talking on the phone.
  • Nightline. If you are a student, you can look at the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
  • Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, Switchboard is available from 10am–11pm, 365 days a year, to listen to any problems you're having. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+. Their national number is 0300 330 0630, or you can email chris@switchboard.lgbt.
  • C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can contact the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L). for a confidential listening and support service. Their number is 0800 123 737 or you can text 'help' to 81066.

Once a girl actually answered the phone and kept me talking through my thoughts and suicidal feelings for almost three hours! To her I shall be eternally grateful!

Information, support and advice lines

Mental health information and advice lines can help by providing information and signposting you to sources of further support. Some problem-specific advice lines can offer tailored support to the specific crisis you're experiencing – these usually have phone operators who have some specialist knowledge or experience in the subject.

If you are at risk of suicide or in despair, some helplines offer follow-up calls.

When can they help?

When you're going through a period of crisis with your mental health, but you feel well enough right now to consider what positive steps you could take to get more support.

Remember: information and advice lines generally do not provide listening services. If you're in extreme crisis, you should seek emergency support, or consider a using a listening service.

Who can I call?

For general mental health information and support:

  • Mind's Infoline. For mental health information, Mind’s Infoline is open from 9am–6pm weekdays. You can contact our Infoline on 0300 123 3393, text 86463 or email info@mind.org.uk
  • NHS 111 / NHS Direct. If you need medical help or advice fast, but it’s not a life-threatening situation, you can call NHS 111 (in England) by dialling 111, or NHS Direct (in Wales) on 0845 46 47.
  • Papyrus HOPEline. If you're under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings and self-harm, the Papyrus HOPEline can offer practical advice. They're open weekdays 10am–10pm, weekends 2pm–10pm and bank holidays 2pm–5pm. Their national number is 0800 068 4141, or you can email pat@papyrus-uk.org or text 07786 209 697.
  • Your local NHS Trust may also offer a crisis phone line, or information and support on what to do in a crisis. Check your local NHS trust’s website for more information about their services.

For problem-specific information and support:

  • Anxiety UK runs a helpline on weekdays between 9.30am–5.30pm, on 08444 775 774.
  • b-eat run a helpline for people experiencing an eating disorder. The national number is 0845 364 1414 or you can email them at help@b-eat.co.uk.
  • Bipolar UK has an information and support line open weekdays between 9am–5pm, on 020 7931 6480.
  • Carers UK offers help and advice on weekdays between 10am–4pm. Their national number is 0808 808 7777 or you can email them at advice@carers.uk.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care can offer support if you're feeling in crisis after someone you know has died. Their helpline is open on weekdays between 9.30–5pm (and until 8pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings). The national number is 0844 477 9400 or you can email helpline@cruse.org.uk.
  • No Panic run a helpline for people experiencing anxiety disorders, open 10am–10pm, 365 days a year, on 0844 967 4848.
  • OCD UK has an advice line open weekdays between 9am–5pm on 0845 120 3778, or you can email them at support@ocduk.org.

If you can't find a helpline here that suits your situation, visit The Helplines Partnership website for a directory of all the helplines available in the UK, including regional helplines, which you can search to find the best telephone support service for you.

Can I call my crisis team?

Some crisis resolution and home treatment (CRHT) teams and community mental health teams (CMHTs) offer telephone support to help you manage mental health crises at home. You can ask your CMHT or CRHT:

  • What sort of telephone support they offer – for example, can they give you information or advice, or could they support you when you're experiencing suicidal thoughts.
  • How they can offer this support – for example, if they will call you or if you should call them, how often you can speak to someone and at what time of day.

This information was published in September 2015. We will revise it in 2018.


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