Getting help quickly
If you live in the UK and you or someone you know is feeling hopeless, suicidal or at risk of harm, immediate help and support
1. Emergency services
Is someone’s life at risk?
- Go straight to your nearest A&E Department
- Telephone 999
What might happen?
This is the quickest way to get help in a crisis. If you call 999 you will speak to someone who is trained to take calls from people in distress and quickly decide what can be done to help keep people safe.
If you go straight to A&E you will be asked to book in and speak to a triage nurse so that they can understand what’s happening and how they can help.
Staff at the hospital should deal with any physical injuries or concerns. They should also ask someone who specialises in mental health issues to speak with you. This might be someone from the Mental Health Liaison Teamor a member of the Crisis Resolution Team.
Tip: Going to A&E can involve long waits, especially if you, or the person you are worried about, are physically safe. It can help to bring along things that help keep you occupied or calm. If you find it hard to be around others in the waiting room, it’s OK to ask for somewhere quiet to wait. They may have a separate room or area when needed. Having someone with you as an advocate can help make sure your voice is heard.
Is it urgent, but no-one’s life is at risk?
- Telephone 111 – a 24 hour non-emergency NHS service that can talk through your options
- Telephone your GP to request an emergency appointment
- If you are already a client of mental health services, you should have details of how to contact your team or a local support service as part of your care plan.
- Go to your local NHS walk-in or urgent care centre.
What might happen?
If you call 111 you should be given the chance to talk with someone who will listen to your concerns and talk you through the options available to you. This might include going to a Walk In or Urgent Care centre, seeing your GP, accessing local community resources or going to A&E (if they’re worried about your immediate safety).
Your GP should be able to offer support, including: information about community resources, a referral to mental health services, some forms of medication and a listening ear.
Your local crisis line or mental health team should be able to listen to your concerns and either arrange additional support, let your team know that you’re struggling or talk through survival strategies with you.
Tip: If you find it hard to talk, you can get someone to call for you. It can help to talk beforehand and agree what they should say (and what you want to stay private).
2. Listening services
- The Samaritans on 116 123 or by emailing Jo (open to people of all ages and available 24/7, 365 days per year)
- SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (open to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers, 16.30 to 22.30)
- Childline on 0800 1111 (open to young people up to the age of 19 and available 24/7, 365 days per year)
- The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (open to anyone under 25, Sunday-Friday 2pm–11pm, including crisis text messenger service)
- Give us a shout. Text ‘Shout’ to 85258 and a trained Crisis Volunteer will text you back and forth until you feel you are in a safe place.
- CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (open to men in the UK who need to talk,
5pm– midnight 365 days a year, also includes a webchat service)
You can find information about additional listening services and emotional support lines in the UK here.
What might happen?
Listening services support people in crisis free of charge. People working in these services should listen to you and do what they can to help you feel less alone, afraid or overwhelmed. You can decide what you say and, if you feel uncomfortable, you are welcome to end the call.
Some services (e.g. Samaritans) are 100% confidential. Others may decide to call the emergency services if they are worried someone’s life is at risk. If confidentiality is important to you, you can ask them directly or look at their website.
Tip: If you find it hard to speak with the person on the other end of the phone, or they say something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s OK to end the call. Some people find it helps to ring another helpline or call back to get another person.