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Calling 911 In A Mental Health Emergency: Things You Should Know

If you have a friend or family member who might need some assistance from mental health professionals, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. However, if it’s an emergency, the only option left is to call 911. You would be shocked to know that many encounters between people suffering from mental health issues and the police have resulted in the unintended injury of the sufferer. If you have to call 911 in the case of a mental health emergency, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Mental Health Emergencies – When Should You Dial 911?

As National Alliance on Mental Illness explains it, the role of the police in such situations is to ensure safety for everyone and maintain control. Psychiatric crisis calls are always treated differently and you should explain to the operator that it is a mental health emergency you are calling them for. If the situation demands the patient to be taken to the hospital, the best thing you can do is to call 911.

In some situations, the person who requires mental health support needs to be forced to go to the hospital and only the police can do it in the right way. You may also want to call the non-emergency number of the department to do a welfare check of your loved ones. Generally speaking, whenever a person suffering from a mental health condition poses a threat to others, you should not hesitate to call 911.

Keep Your Calm And Composure During Mental Health Emergency

You need to keep calm and follow all the directions in such situations. Listen to the dispatcher very carefully and follow all the instructions. If possible, call from a landline number as this will help the police identify your actual location really fast. It is also important for you to know your exact location.

The 911 dispatchers are trained to assist people in such situations. Listen to the dispatcher carefully and don’t hang up while on the call. Explain your emergency in a calm and composed manner and also try to make sure that the person who is suffering from a mental disorder doesn’t hear you speaking to the police.

Explain Mental Health Issues To Both The Dispatcher And The Officers

While you need to explain what sort of mental health disorders your loved one is suffering from, you might need to explain it again to the responding officers. This is simply because dispatchers only give a summary of the emergency situation to the officers and they might need additional information in order to tackle the situation well. For example, if your loved one has a history of violent behavior, you must share the case history with the responding officers.

You also need to identify yourself and define your relationship with the person. You need to do this at the beginning of the call and when you are asked by the responding officers. They should know whether you are the primary caregiver to the person, or is it someone else. If you are a neighbor or a stranger trying to help a person in distress, you should tell that too.

Are There Any Alternatives To Calling 911?

Yes, there are a few alternatives to calling 911. If you can manage it yourself, you should call an ambulance and take the person to the nearest hospital. Preferably, you should find a hospital that has a mental health department. You should also contact the primary care provider of the person in case of an emergency, and if you are not the primary caregiver yourself. If you can, contact a mental health counselor or a medical care worker and explain the situation. Even community health care service providers can provide the required help and support during such situations.

Remember that the person suffering from a mental health disorder, even if they turn violent, still has civil rights, and calling 911 doesn’t mean they will get arrested. There are certain Federal and state rules and regulations regarding such mental health emergencies which you should be aware of. The best thing to do is to check with the mental health services department in advance so you can act in accordance with your state’s rules and regulations during emergency situations.

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