Advice and support in a mental health crisis

Following requests from many churches on how to find help when someone is suffering a mental health crisis, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has produced an advice leaflet in partnership with the diocesan group Opening Minds.

It acknowledges that many people are drawn to community faith leaders at times of distress and offers leaders and their colleagues the following advice:

If someone is in crisis, listen to them, as long as you are not in danger, but never say your conversation will be confidential because you might have to share information. Find out if a professional is already helping them.

For out of hours numbers for mental health and social services call NHS Choices on 111.

 It is not uncommon for people to have suicidal thoughts but they are at greater risk if they have plans to commit suicide. Asking about this will not increase the risk. If someone feels hopeless and can see no future they should be offered immediate help.

Find out who is supporting them and ask to speak to that person. They may have a crisis card with phone numbers to call. Encourage them to talk to someone who is trained to listen such as the Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90.

 Suggest they see their GP, or offer to take them. If they are under professional care and you are really concerned you could check when their next appointment is and see if it could be brought forward. Out of hours, contact NHS Choices on 111 for advice.

If they are about to seriously harm themselves call 999. If there is a risk of violence, make sure everyone is safe and call police. If they have taken an overdose or harmed themselves, they should be assessed at an Emergency Department.

Sometimes people are not aware how unwell they are and that puts their health or that of others at risk. If you are unable to contact the GP or mental health team, contact adult social services.

If the person is under the care of Nottinghamshire Healthcare, they may tell you which team they are under. Call 0115 969 1300 and the switchboard will direct you to the right team.

The Trust has a Spiritual and Pastoral Care Service which can help on matters relating to religious or spiritual care of patients. Contact the Revd Dr Paul Quilter, Head of Spiritual and Pastoral Care, on 0115 952 9485.