Being prepared for a crisis by learning about resources and support services allows you to act fast and make good decisions. You may find the information contained in NAMI’s publication, Navigating a Mental Health Crisis to be particularly helpful.
Involving the police in a crisis can be an extremely stressful situation for all concerned. Should your loved one need emergency assistance during a mental health crisis – before dialing 911 – contact the non-emergency phone number for your local police department and ask if they have a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Explain that your loved one is experiencing a psychiatric emergency and that you need assistance.
CITs are emergency-response police officers who are trained to de-escalate a situation for those experiencing a mental health crisis. To learn more, please consult the Calling 9-1-1 and speaking with the police page on NAMI’s website. You may also wish to visit the CIT database on our website to determine if there is a CIT service provided in your community.
We would urge you to read through the information on our website on Being Prepared for a Crisis. There, you will learn about developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan, which can be very helpful in planning for your loved one’s overall care and how to avoid a crisis.
Alternative option - Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU)
An alternative option to consider: Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU) or Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team is an emergency mental health service offered by many counties to provide on-scene evaluation, treatment and crisis interventions in the community. The teams specialize in providing these services to individuals who are experiencing a mental health emergency and who need, but are unwilling or unable to seek, mental health treatment.
While the goal of the MCU is to enlist the individual’s cooperation and develop the least restrictive treatment options, the MCU is authorized to recommend and facilitate involuntary hospitalization and treatment when necessary.
The criteria for requesting an MCU varies depending upon the county or city mental health agency. However, a person experiencing a crisis that presents a danger of harm to self or others and is unwilling or unable to accept emergency services would qualify for mobile crisis services. If about you are unsure about the availability of mobile crisis services in your area or when it’s appropriate to call, contact the emergency mental health services in your county for more information by dialing 211.