Preparing for an Emergency

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As possible, it is best to prepare for a Mental Health Crisis before one occurs. The following sources are essential guides in preparing effectively.


For NAMI's Guide for Navigating a Mental Health Crisis CLICK HERE


From the Treatment Advocacy Center Preparing for Crisis:

Relapse and rehospitalization are, unfortunately, common in serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, especially among patients who don’t recognize they are ill (a condition known as anosognosia).

When a loved one is in an active psychiatric crisis, it can be hard to think clearly and quickly. Always having emergency contacts, personal data, prescription information and legal paperwork collected in a single source, at your fingertips, will make it faster and easier for you to respond effectively if a crisis develops.

You will find a list of items you may need for an emergency in Crisis Essentials. Whether you keep your kit in a paper or digital file – or maybe both – be sure to

Review and update the information regularly (e.g., after a change in providers, diagnosis, prescriptions, address). Give a copy to anyone who might have to act if you are unavailable (e.g., other adult children, your siblings). Keep the information near you at all times (e.g., scanned onto your mobile devices, stored on a flash drive in the glove compartment of your car, organized in a file in your desk at the office). It can also be helpful to enlist a stable and reliable third party in advance who is willing to back you up in an emergency by joining you on the scene, staying home with your children or providing other support you need in order to focus on getting help for your loved one.

Other measures that will help you be prepared include

Knowing the laws in your state; Knowing the procedures at the local emergency room or other facility where your loved one is likely to be taken by police or paramedics in an emergency and providing them with any forms or information that can be kept on file (e.g., an advance directive, a signed release for medical information); Identifying diversion options where your loved one lives (e.g., a hospital “safe room” where individuals in crisis can voluntarily shelter, a sub-acute group home that takes voluntary admissions, the local police department’s mobile crisis team); and Networking with other families through the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). If you are worried about a loved one, but there appears to be no immediate danger, alerting the person’s psychiatrist, caseworker, ACT team or other mental health professional can lead to help before crisis occurs and emergency intervention becomes necessary.


If you need to call for help (loved one is a danger to themselves or others), please dial 911 for help. HOLD THIS LIST IN YOUR HAND WHEN YOU DIAL 911 SO YOU CAN FOLLOW THE SUGGESTED GUILDLINES. GIVE THE DISPATCHER THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AND ANY FURTHER INFORMATION THEY MAY REQUEST:


If you want help getting loved one to the hospital, say: I am calling to request medical transport for a person experiencing a mental illness crisis.

Is there a police officer on duty who is familiar with helping those with mental illness and/or trained in Crisis Intervention?

Your Name:

Address law enforcement should come to:

List any weapons that are present:

Name of your loved one:

Age:

Height and weight:

Clothing description:

Diagnosis:

Tell the dispatcher if loved one is intoxicated:

Drug use (current or past):

Medications (on or off):

Any prior violent behavior:

Past psychosis:

Details about past delusions or hallucinations:

Triggers:

Things that have helped in the past:

If possible, go outside the home and meet the police officers alone before they enter the home.

KEEP IN MIND: You are asking an unknown professional to come to your home to help you resolve a crisis. They will have NO information about the situation/individual unless you inform them. Be sure you can provide this information. It may help to practice so that you are better able to convey this during a crisis situation.

From NAMI Dallas and the Dallas Police Department, amended to include information from local sources.