NAMI Indiana has some very valuable information about what to do in a psychiatric crisis in Indiana. It actually publishes a small book called What To Do in a Psychiatric Crisis in Indiana.
Along with that, you can go online at namiindiana.org, click What to do in a crisis, and click your county to find out which Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) to contact, the number to call for police, whether the police have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers who are trained to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis, and additional helpful information.
Basically, what you do is contact people who can help:
- If the person needs immediate medical or psychiatric care and you can safely drive them to the nearest hospital emergency room, do so. If you have any doubts whether you can safely transport the person, do not get in the car with them.
- If the individual poses an immediate danger to himself or others, call 911, ask for a CIT officer to be sent, and explain your concerns, that you suspect psychiatric issues are in play, and describe specifically what the person is saying or doing that makes you believe they’re experiencing a psychiatric break. (Not all areas of the country have CIT officers. If your area does not, it’s even more important for you to explain that you believe the person is experiencing psychiatric issue and that you want the person taken to a hospital and not to jail.)
- If you’re concerned but unsure about the person’s current mental health status (for example, you haven’t heard from the person for several days when you usually hear from them every day), call the police and request a wellness check, so they can check in on the person. Many but not all police stations offer wellness checks.
- If the person is currently under psychiatric care, call the doctor or therapist on the treatment team to report what’s going on. In accordance with HIPAA medical privacy laws, the doctor may not be able to tell you anything, but nothing prevents you from telling the doctor what you know.
- If the person is not currently under psychiatric care, contact your Community Mental Health Center, if your county has one, or the nearest Mental Health America affiliate (search for the nearest MHA affiliate). Local hospitals may also have their own psychiatric centers that offer crisis and assessment services, which can provide guidance on what to do.
Now for some homework. NAMI Indiana provides great information about local resources throughout Indiana, but we’re not sure what’s available in other states. Please take a few minutes to research mental health crisis resources in your state and post the information here.
(You may also want to read Tuesday’s post, “Be Prepared” about writing down in advance key information you’ll need in the event of a crisis.)