Keep calm in a crisis. It can be frightening to be with someone who is extremely distressed and mentally unwell.
Professional help should be available if needed. Every region has a Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team (or Crisis Team) which can respond to mental health emergencies, and most Accident and Emergency departments will have a mental health professional on duty.
Contact details for Crisis Teams can be found by phoning NHS 111.
If there is an obvious, immediate risk to anyone present contact the emergency services using 999. Do not put anyone in danger.
These simple steps should be helpful in keeping yourself and the person safe until professional help can be accessed, if necessary and appropriate.
- Stay calm. If you panic, the person will pick up on this, which may exacerbate their distress.
- Ask them if they have experienced anything similar in the past, and if so, what helped them to cope then. Encourage them to utilise any coping skills which they have found to be effective.
- Find out who normally supports the person (family, friends, professionals or carers), and encourage them to make contact with your help.
- Contact the local Crisis Team for advice if unsure what to do.
- If you cannot reach the Crisis Team and are really concerned attend A&E if the person will go with you, or seek support from the police if not who can use protective powers under the Mental Health Act.
- Remember to use active listening skills if the person is calm enough to talk. This may help the crisis to resolve itself.
- Afterwards, ensure that you are able to access support if the incident has provoked any difficult feelings in you. However, remember to preserve confidentiality.