Psychiatric Emergencies - What to do in a mental health emergency

Just like any other medical emergency, a mental emergency should be addressed immediately by a physician. However, many patients and families are unsure when emergency care is necessary for mental health conditions. When our office is unavailable outside of regular business hours, you should call 9-1-1 or head to the emergency room. Below you will find more information about situations requiring this level of care.

What Constitutes a Mental Health Emergency?

Generally, any threat to a person’s own wellbeing or a threat of violence against others will be considered a psychiatric emergency. Additionally, emergency care may be needed for any physical side effects of psychiatric medications. If you experience any of the following, it is time to seek emergency care.

  • Suicidal Thoughts – Thoughts of suicide are common in individuals diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. However, these are not normal thoughts. If you have contemplated suicide or self-harm, do not delay seeking care. Additionally, if a loved one makes a comment regarding suicide or is engaging in self-harming behavior, you should call 9-1-1.

  • Violent Thoughts or Behaviors – If you or a loved one is threatening violence towards others or engaging in violent or reckless behavior, then you should seek an emergency mental health evaluation.

  • Medication Side Effects – Psychiatric medications may cause a wide range of side effects. While some may be minor, others can require emergency care. When you are prescribed any medication, carefully review the potential side effects with your pharmacist. If you notice that any serious side effects develop, then don’t hesitate to seek emergency care.

 

Where Else Can I Turn for Care?

In addition to calling 9-1-1 or heading to a nearby emergency room, you can consult the Community-Wide Crisis Line. This is a free 24-hour crisis line for individuals experiencing extreme emotional distress, substance abuse, or mental illness. You can reach them at (520) 622-6000.