NAMI-Yolo - a chapter of NAMI, the Nation's Voice on Mental Illness


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What to Do in an Emergency
(Source:  NAMI San Francisco)

Control Yourself
Don't shout into the phone or at arriving officers or medical professionals. They can't understand you if you shout.

On the Phone
Be ready to give concrete examples of the dangerous behaviors and to support your contention that the person is mentally ill. For example, say, "My daughter pulled a knife" as opposed to "My daughter wants to kill me."

State over the phone the following information and be ready to repeat it to arriving police officers and/or medical professionals:

  • Your name.

  • Your address.

  • Family member's name.

  • Your relationship.

  • That the person is mentally ill and give the diagnosis.

  • State whether medications are being used, whether it was stopped and when was the last time the meds were taken.

  • Describe what your family member is doing now.

  • Say whether you feel threatened.

  • Say whether your family member is hearing voices or fears someone.

  • Say whether a weapon is in the house --- to minimize further agitation, remove any guns from the house before the police arrive

  • Say where inside the house is your family member

  • Say whether there is a history of violence

Until professionals arrive,  STAY CALM

  • Be polite, respectful, reassuring, low-key and direct with your family member.

  • Maintain on-going communication directly with the person and do not include others in side conversations.

  • Do not try to trick or deceive your family member.

  • Avoid immediately moving in close or touching the person unless necessary.

  • Remove all objects with which a person may do harm to self or others.

 When Professionals Arrive

  • Have all the lights on inside the house.

  • Identify yourself.

  • Carry nothing in your hands especially coming outside to meet them, in which case walk, don't run to meet them.

  • Don't ramble.

  • Be prepared to repeat the information you gave over the phone.

  • State whether there is a history of suicide attempts.

  • State whether your family member is violent or delusional.

  • Have treating psychiatrist's phone number handy.