What To Do In A Crisis

Crisis episodes related to mental illness can feel overwhelming.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 1-800-870-5481 immediately. Don’t wait.

We're Here to Help

Unlike other emergencies, people experiencing mental health crises often don't receive instructions on what to expect. When a mental health crisis occurs, friends and family are often caught off-guard, unprepared and unsure of what to do. If you're worried that your loved one is in crisis or nearing a crisis, make sure to assess the immediacy of the situation to help determine where to start or who to call.

If You Need Additional Help Call Our 24/7 Crisis Line Now


Being prepared in case of a crisis can save lives.

Techniques that May Help De-escalate a Crisis:

A person experiencing a mental health crisis may not be able to clearly communicate their thoughts, feelings, needs or emotions. They may also find it difficult to process what others are saying correctly. It is important to empathize and connect with the person's feelings, stay calm and try to de-escalate the crisis. If these suggestions do not help, call our local 27/4 Crisis Line at: 1-800-870-5481.

What to Do

✔ If possible, don't try to handle it alone
✔ Remain calm and keep a neutral tone of voice
✔ Take the person and the crisis seriously
✔ Listen first, express support and concern
✔ Ask how you can help
✔ Give them space
✔ Gently announce actions before initiating them
✔ Avoid touching them without permission
✔ If suicide/abuse/self-harm is involved SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY

What NOT to Do:

✘ Don't make judgmental or criticing comments
✘ Don't argue or try to reason with the person
✘ Don't disagree with their experience
✘ Avoid guilt and assigning blame to others
✘ Don't block the doorway or any other exit
✘ Don't threaten
✘ Don't stand over them
✘ Avoid direct, continuous eye contact

What to Say

✔ "You are not alone."
✔ "I'm here for you."
✔ "I am concerned about you."
✔ "You are important to me."
✔ "We will get through this together."

What NOT to Say:

✘ "We all go through tough times like these."
✘ "You'll be fine."
✘ "It's all in your head."
✘ "Just snap out of it."
✘ Do not debate "right or wrong".

Stay Prepared: Learn How to Navigate a Mental Health Crisis

The NAMI guide is developed to support people experiencing mental health crises, their friends and families by providing important, sometimes lifesaving information. It outlines what can contribute to a crisis, warning signs that a crisis is emerging, strategies to help de-escalate a crisis and resources that may be available for those affected.

Download NAMI Resource Guide

Get Help Now

Are you concerned for yourself or others? Options are available depending on the severity of the situation.

Call Our Crisis Line

A local 24/7 help line to help de-escalate the situation and offer further options.


Our walk-in clinic is available weekdays 9am to 9pm.
Learn more

Don't Hesitate to Call 911

Sometimes situations can escalate beyond our control. If you or your loved one are in an immediate threat of violence or if it is a medical emergency, these steps can help you be prepared when calling 911 for help:

When Calling:

1. Remember to Remain Calm

2. Ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer, if available. Explain that your loved one is having a mental health crisis.

3. Give Them Important Information:
✔ Your name
✔ The person's name, age, description
✔ Your current location
✔ Whether the person has access to a weapon
✔ Suicide attempts, prior violence, current threats
✔ Drug use

4. Information You May Be Asked For:
✔ Mental health history
✔ Current or past medications
✔ What has helped in the past
✔ Delusions or hallucinations

When Waiting for Help to Arrive:

If you feel safe staying with your loved one until help arrives:
✔ Announce all of your actions in advance
✔ Use short sentences
✔ Be comfortable with silence
✔ Allow your loved one to pace/move freely
✔ Offer options ("do you want..?")
✔ Reduce stimulation (TV, lights, loud noises, etc)