What is a mental health crisis?

A mental health crisis occurs when an individual urgently needs help because of an ongoing or emerging mental health problem. The crisis may take the form of suicidal behaviour or intention, panic attacks, extreme anxiety, psychotic episodes and behaviour that seems out of control and irrational or likely to endanger the person or others. The crisis may form part of an ongoing period of illness or distress, or be precipitated by events, and many individuals in mental health crisis have not had experience of using specialist mental health services. As a result the individual in crisis may seek help through a range of routes including family, friends, their GP, the local accident and emergency department, a crisis team within specialist mental health services, the police, the ambulance service, or support services within their local community. Alternatively the individual may not know where to seek help, or how to express their distress.

Approximately one in 100 people has a severe mental health problem.

Currently, only 14 per cent of people in crisis report getting all the help and support they needed.

The Mental Health SCN is working with CCG colleagues to support them in taking forward the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat locally. The Concordat is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis.

The SCN are doing this through a range of routes:-

  • Co-ordinating quarterly Crisis Collaborative events, where regional and national good practice is showcased, and commissioner, provider and service user participants network and share learning.
  • We have mapped crisis and liaison services across the region- to identify variation, innovation and best practice, and to enable commissioners and providers to benchmark local services against what is happening elsewhere in the region.
  • Process Mapping Mental Health in Emergency Care

For more information, please click on the relevant work stream link to the right hand side of this page.