What to do in a crisis

The word ‘crisis’ can mean different things to different people, but for many mental health carers, crisis refers to a situation when the person they care for is becoming increasingly unwell. Crises can happen at the most inconvenient times and when the services you are used to dealing with are not available ie at night or at weekends.

It is helpful to think about some of the worse case scenarios in advance. For example what the crisis may entail, who you may call and how you might respond. A crisis cannot often be predicted, but forward planning may help you remain calm and respond effectively.

Who to contact

If your believe the person you care for is in a mental health crisis and is in need of immediate help, there are several different avenues you can take.

Between 9am-5pm Monday – Friday: The first point of contact should be the care coordinator, and if they are not available the team manager. If you cannot get through to these people and/or feel the situation is urgent you should contact the following:

Bexley and Bromley

Contact the duty team/worker. Each of the mental health teams in the community has a duty team or duty worker that will respond to a crisis during their working hours. You can contact them by ringing the main switchboard for the mental health team.


If the person you care for is not on care programme approach (CPA) you should ring the Assessment and Shared Care team (ASC) on 020 8319 5500.

If the person you care for is on CPA you should contact the Recovery team on 020 8269 4110. Both teams will be able to offer advice and help you deal with the crisis.

Outside of hours

There are two main options for an out of hours crisis:

1. Emergency doctor – all GP surgeries have an out of hours number which you can call in an emergency. The out of hours doctor may assess the situation over the phone, ask you to attend a clinic/service, or may come out to assess the service user. They will be able to arrange any necessary specialist assessments.

Emergency doctor numbers:

Bexley and Greenwich – GRABADOC 020 8319 3030.

Bromley – 020 8676 3263.

2. Out of hours social service or emergency duty team (EDT). These teams cover crises for users of all services not just mental health, although they are trained in mental health. The out of hours team will discuss the situation over the phone and can arrange a Mental Health Act assessment if necessary.

Out of hours numbers:

Bexley 020 8303 7777

Bromley 020 8464 4848

Greenwich 020 8854 8888


  1. A&E.  if you are not able to obtain the support you need through the methods above you can take the person you care for to your nearest A&E department. They will be able to assess the person’s needs and contact mental health services to arrange hospitalisation or an assessment if necessary. Each Oxleas inpatient unit has a team who liaise with A&E.
  2. Police. If the person you care for is being violent, threatening or you feel at risk you should contact the police directly by dialling 999.