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What to do in a mental health crisis

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, there may be times when their condition gets worse. This is known as a mental health crisis and requires swift action to protect the person or other people.

A mental health crisis can mean different things, but it is generally when someone’s mental health worsens and they require urgent help from professional services. There might be early warning signs, or it may be sudden, but it is important to get help as soon as possible.

The nature of a mental health crisis is dependent on the circumstances of the individual. Some people may feel very agitated or anxious, whilst others might experience suicidal impulses or the need to self harm.

A crisis may be a sudden deterioration of an existing mental health problem or this may be the first time someone has experienced symptoms. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger then you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance or police.

If you have had thoughts of self-harming or are feeling suicidal it is vital that you contact someone immediately, such as your GP, a friend or relative, or someone you can trust. If you or someone you know requires urgent but not life threatening care then you should call 111.

Your GP can help if you have been experiencing symptoms of depression which have started to impact on your life. If you’ve been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks or anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your GP.

You can ask to book a double appointment if you feel that you will need more time to discuss your symptoms. It is important to remember that admitting that you are struggling does not necessarily mean that you have an illness.

By seeing your doctor, or reaching out to a mental health organisation, you are taking the first steps to preventing a possible mental health crisis.

Who can you call?

The following is the advice of the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust…

There is an emergency. I am in immediate danger or other people are in danger.

Call 999 and request an ambulance and/or police.

I am in crisis. I need support and advice urgently and I am already a Trust service user.

If you are a Trust service user you should have been given a contact number for when you are in crisis. If you cannot find this number, please contact the team you are seeing by calling them direct, or via your local Access and Assessment team in:

  • Suffolk - call 0300 123 1334
  • Central and West Norfolk - call 0300 790 0371
  • Great Yarmouth and Waveney - call 01493 337776

I am in crisis. I need support and advice urgently but I am not a Trust service user.

The following numbers are all available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year:

  • Samaritans offer confidential and non-judgemental emotional support whenever you need someone to talk to. Call 08457 90 90 90
  • ChildLine offers a counselling service for children and young people. You can also call the helpline if you are an adult worried about a child. Call 0800 1111
  • FRANK provides information and advice about drugs. Call 0300 123 6600
  • NHS 111 offers urgent medical help or advice when it isn't a life-threatening situation. Call 111

It isn't an emergency, but I don't know who to call about my treatment or how to get help from the Trust.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offers confidential advice, support and information on health related matters for staff, patients, their families and carers.

PALS is available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm by telephone or email:

  • Email: pals@nsft.nhs.uk
  • Call 01603 421191 or BT Freephone 0800 279 7257. Calls from mobiles and other providers may charge. If we are unable to answer, you can leave a voicemail message which we aim to respond to the next working day

It isn't an emergency, but I am really struggling to cope with low mood, anxiety or stress.

If you are experiencing low mood, stress or anxiety you can self-refer to our Wellbeing service by visiting www.readytochange.org.uk.

Also, you can call 0300 123 1503 if you live in Norfolk or 0300 123 1781 if you live in Suffolk.

Alternatively, or if you have more complex problems, you should visit your GP and discuss how you are feeling with them. They can refer you into our services if appropriate.

It isn't an emergency, but I am very worried about my relative or friend's mental health.

You should encourage them to go and see their GP or to contact the Wellbeing service (www.readytochange.org.uk) if they are experiencing low mood, stress or anxiety.

If you are worried about someone who is very unwell, but it isn't an emergency, you should call NHS 111 for advice.

If you need emotional support, please contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

There are a number of other mental health helplines which can offer support and advice if you want to talk to someone right away:

  • The Samaritans offer confidential, emotional support, 24 hours a day. You can call 116 123.
  • Children and young people can call Childline at any time to speak to a counsellor who will listen to any problems or feelings you might have. Calls are free and in total confidence: 0800 11 11

You can also email Childline via their website: www.childline.org.uk which also has online chat where you can chat to a counsellor online in a one to one session 24 hours a day.

If you are an adult concerned about a child, you can call Childline on 0808 800 5000, or email help@nspcc.org.uk

  • The Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) has centres in Norwich and Great Yarmouth and offers drop in sessions where young people can talk to someone for advice without making an appointment.

The Norwich drop-in is open every week day from 1.30 to 5.30 pm at The Risebrow Centre, Chantry Rd, Norwich, NR2 1RF

The Great Yarmouth drop-in is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1.30 to 5.30pm at 52A, Deneside, NR30 2HL.

The centres have a team of advisors, counsellors and youth workers who can arrange counselling sessions and offer practical help and guidance. They can also arrange counselling sessions and offer practical help and guidance on a range of matters affecting young people.

Counselling from MAP can also be accessed at venues across the county including in North Walsham, Attleborough and King’s Lynn. Go to www.map.uk.net/ for more information. Or email info@map.uk.net at any time for advice and an advisor will aim to get back to you within 48 hours.

If you’d like to add your service to this list please email david.powles@archant.co.uk

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