What do I do if I find myself in a crisis?

There may be times when you find yourself or someone that you care for in extreme difficulties and you may need help very quickly.  Locally and nationally, there are people and systems set up to deal with these types of situations. 

1) I'm worried about myself. What should I do?

If you experience mental distress, it can be frightening and you may feel alone. If this is a new experience, you may not know what is happening. 

If you have experienced similar symptoms before then you will know what does and does not help you in such circumstances. 

There are a number of actions you can take:

2) How can I approach someone displaying signs of mental distress?

Someone who is experiencing acute mental distress will often be feeling extremely anxious and frightened and maybe agitated. It can be frightening to see someone behaving strangely, but there are a number of things you can do to help:

People who are experiencing mental health distress are far more likely to pose a risk to themselves than to other people, but there are occasions when they may be violent. 

If you have reason to think that the person may hurt themselves or others, do not approach, but call for professional help. 

There are sections of the Mental Health Act which enable professionals to go into someone’s house or to take charge of a situation in a public place.

3) How can I help if a friend or relative is someone displaying signs of mental distress?

It can be difficult when a friend or relative suffers from mental distress. It can be painful to see them suffering and may disrupt life if you find yourself in a caring role you did not choose. 

However it can also bring people together giving them a chance to express love and affection in a way that has not been possible before. Ways in which you can help include:

4) What can I do if a friend or relative will not seek help?

Some people, even when experiencing severe mental distress may not ask for help and even reject any suggestion of help. 

Although you may be concerned, pressing them may make matters worse. 

You may need to make the decision to contact professionals, especially if you think that the person may be a danger to themselves or someone else. 

You can contact local social services to ask for a Mental Health Act assessment, which would involve two doctors and an approved mental health professional. An assessment may result in a person being taken to the hospital against their will.

5) What can I do if it is an emergency?

If you or someone you know is suffering from an acute mental health crisis there are several things that you can do. You may need an emergency mental health assessment.

There are three main ways of having an emergency mental health assessment:

The assessment is carried out by three people, two doctors and one approved mental health professional. If you are refusing treatment it may lead to being admitted to the hospital against your will or being ‘sectioned’.

There are some alternatives to hospitalisation which are community-based. These include:

6) Do I have to go to my doctor (GP) to get help for mental distress?

Your GP is your first point of contact if you wish to access medical services either National Health Service (NHS) or private. 

Your GP can also refer you for talking treatments such as counselling. 

There are a number of private and voluntary organisations offering services that can help. 

7) What treatments are available for mental distress?

There are many different treatments for mental distress. There are also things people can do that can help themselves, and some of these can be accessed outside of the National Health Service (NHS).

Different approaches that can be helpful for people recovering from mental distress include:


Talking treatments such as counselling, self-help groups and complementary therapies;

Change in lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise, spirituality, yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation, self-confidence or assertiveness courses.

8) Can I speak to someone now?

Dorking Minds is focused on providing subsidised Mental health First Aid Training. If you're in distress and feel that you need to speak to someone immediately, we recommed The Samaritans who provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

Call: 116 123 (24 hous a day)

You can also try and contact the relevant services in our Directory.