Families and friends sometimes have a difficult time making the hard decision to phone for emergency help when a family member or friend with a psychiatric disability is experiencing severe symptoms. Sometimes the situation is clearly an emergency. Other times, it's not so clear, especially when a person's psychiatric disorder is emerging and/or family members and friends are inexperienced. Here are some guidelines.
It is an emergency if the ill person is:
- Inflicting or attempting to inflict serious bodily harm on another.
- Gravely disabled: unable to provide for own food, clothing, shelter to the extent that death, bodily injury or physical debilitation might result without treatment.
- Attempting suicide or behaving as though he or she intends to follow through with verbal threats.
- Mutilating or attempting to mutilate himself/herself.
- Acutely distressed by hearing or seeing things which do not exist.
- Expressing serious thoughts about hurting themselves or someone else.
- Experiencing uncontrollable anxiety or anger.
- Having a severe reaction to psychiatric medication.