Help for Myself

Calling for Help

Calling for Help

Information to Give When You Call

Tell the call center that this is a mental health crisis, especially if you’re calling 911.

Give this information as needed:

  • Your name and phone number
  • Your age and gender
  • Where you are right now
  • Do you feel like harming yourself or someone else?
  • Do you have a weapon? Be specific.
  • Have you been in crisis before? In mental health hospital?
  • Alcohol or drug use?
  • Your mental health provider or primary doctor
  • Recent changes in sleep, appetite, mood, or behavior

Remember, if you're in crisis:


  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Try your best to stay calm
  • Getting angry won’t help
  • Stay clear of anything that could be used as a weapon
  • Ask for help
  • People are trying to help
  • You deserve help and support
  • You are not alone
  • It’s hard now, but it gets better
  • There is hope

What happens next?

First responders may be mental health crisis workers, law enforcement, trained CIT officers or paramedics.[1]

  • Ask how long it will take first responders to come
  • Prepare to wait safely

The job of the first responders is to protect safety, calm the situation and decide next steps. Crisis workers may do an assessment at the scene. Law enforcement may provide transport to a crisis center or emergency room (ER).

Prepare to repeat what you have told the call center and give more information if asked:

  • Your diagnosis, medications, provider name and contact information, hospital or crisis stays
  • Any times when you have harmed to yourself or others
  • Any weapons in your possession, including guns
Be prepared to give input:
In a clear, respectful way, explain what you would like to happen. Work with first responders. Do not argue.


You can go to a crisis center...

if you feel safe and first responders cannot come soon.

Types of crisis centers:

  • Crisis Walk-in Center
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU)
  • Crisis Respite
  • Hospital emergency room (ER) or emergency department (ED)

What to take to ER/ED

If assessment takes place at the scene, first responders may:

  • Call your mental health provider to work out a plan.
  • Ask if you will go to a hospital or crisis center of your own free will as a voluntary admission.
  • Take you to hospital for an exam even if you don’t want to go: emergency detention, 6-401, or involuntary detention.[2]
  • Assess whether you are at high enough risk for a Certificate of Need (CON) for involuntary admission. First responders may call this a 6-404.[3]
  • Leave you where you are if the risk is not high enough to be committed to hospital.


Transportation to Crisis Care

If you need to go for assessment at an emergency room or crisis center, your family or another supporter may take you if the first responders agree, you are willing and your supporter feels it is safe.

Restraints: You may be restrained during the trip if first responders take you to the crisis center or hospital. This is for safety, not because you have done anything wrong.

  • A sheriff’s deputy or police officer is likely to use handcuffs.
  • A mental health or medical transport worker may use soft restraints.



Remember you can call again if the situation gets worse. CALL 911 or Crisis: 855-274-7471

Note: Follow-up helps reduce the risk of future crises.

Law Enforcement Wait

An officer transporting to an emergency room may have to wait a long time until the person is assessed.

An officer transporting to a crisis center other than an emergency room can typically leave within 5-10 minutes.

An officer or deputy transporting to a treating hospital must wait up to 1 hour and 45 minutes for a second exam to be completed. If the person is released within that time the officer must drive them back to their county (§ 33-6-406).

[1] Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), a partnership of trained law enforcement officers with mental health professionals, available in some communities.
[2] § 33-6-401 and § 33-6-402 are state laws on taking a person for a mental health exam without their consent.
[3] § 33-6-404 is state law on the first Certificate of Need for involuntary commitment. The law only allows admission without consent if a doctor at the admitting hospital files a second Certificate of Need (33-6-105).