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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, make an appointment with a psychiatrist. However, if it’s an emergency, the only option left is to call 911. It might surprise you to know that most incidents involving a person with mental illness and the cops end in accidents and injuries. So, how do you address a mental health emergency if it could risk injuries? We cover all that you need to know if you have to call 911 in the case of a mental health emergency.

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 call 911.

In some situations, the person who requires mental health support needs to be forcefully taken to the hospital. And it is only the police who can do it in the right way. Generally speaking, act if you see people battling mental health and posing a threat to others. You should not hesitate to call 911. You may also want to call the department’s non-emergency number to do a welfare check of your loved ones.

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. It is also important for you to know your exact location. If possible, call from a landline number to help the police identify your actual location fast.

The 911 dispatchers undergo training 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 has 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 summarize the emergency to the officers, and they might need additional information 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 the responding officers ask you. They should know whether you are the primary caregiver to the person or 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 person’s primary care provider 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 still has civil rights even if they turn violent. And when they call 911, they should not face the risk of arrest.

There are certain Federal and state rules and regulations regarding such mental health emergencies which you should be aware of. Check with the mental health services department in advance. You can act per your state’s rules and regulations during emergencies and help someone in need. It is important to read, research, and understand your local laws so you act fast and possibly save a life. Did you find this blog useful? Do let us know in the comments section!

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