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Are you in a mental health crisis?

We understand that sometimes you may feel overwhelmed, distressed, or thinking of harming yourself or others. 

The RCN Counselling Service is not an emergency service and cannot help in a crisis.

If you need immediate or urgent support, this page has advice on what steps to take.

Remember: If you feel unable to keep yourself or others safe, it's a mental health emergency!

If you feel like you might:

  • attempt suicide
  • harm yourself or others
  • have already seriously harmed yourself or others

then you need urgent medical help.

What to do 


  • Call 999
  • Go to or ask someone to take you to your nearest Accident and Emergency department (A&E). 
  • Call your GP to set up an emergency appointment, when booking an appointment, you must advise the surgery that you are feeling suicidal.
  • Call the Samaritans on 116 123

If you can't do this by yourself, ask someone to help you.

If you’re in England, you can also call your local crisis team. (If you don't already have their number, you can find an urgent mental health helpline on the NHS website.)

You matter

Mental health emergencies are serious. Remember: You matter, and you are not wasting anyone's time.

If you can keep yourself safe for a short while, but you still need urgent advice, you can:

  • speak to your GP to request an emergency appointment
  • call NHS 111 out of surgery working hours.

UK wide support services 

Whatever you're going through, there are people you can talk to any time. You can:

These services are for anyone who's struggling. They won't judge you. They're free, confidential, and are open 24/7.



  • Breathing Space is confidential helpline for anyone living in Scotland that feels low in mood, anxious, or depressed. Interpreters are available if English is not your first language.


  • If you’re in Wales you can contact the C.A.L.L helpline. See the to find out how to speak to someone via phone or via text. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Northern Ireland

If you’re in Northern Ireland you can also contact the Lifeline freephone helpline. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Channel Islands

See Jersey ( Mental Health Network), Guernsey ( or Alderney (Island Medical centre).

A mental health crisis is when you feel at breaking point and no longer feel safe. You might be:

Mental Health charity "Mind" has some great resources designed to help individuals going through a mental health crisis, with practical tools for you to use including:

  • What can I do to help myself cope
  • How can I distract myself?
  • What’s happening to me?

See Ways to help yourself cope in a crisis.

Things to avoid during a mental health crisis

There are some things that you should avoid during a mental health crisis such as:

  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • driving 
  • risky behaviour 
  • isolating yourself
  • taking more medication than you've been prescribed
  • reaching out to people who will be unhelpful

Nobody plans to be in crisis, but making a crisis plan allows you to map out what types of support could help you in the future.  Feeling prepared can help you to relax, and can even help to prevent another crisis. Mind has some good advice on planning for a mental health crisis.

The Staying Safe website provides information on how to make a safety plan, including video tutorials and online templates to guide you through the process.

The Samaritans has a self help app that helps you track your mood and feelings, store images of things that give you hope, and develop a safety plan,

You can also download the stay alive app which can help you create a safety plan and upload photos or videos to your “lifebox," as well as offering signposts to resources in your area.

The NHS has information about "How a mental health emergency is treated in A&E," on their page Where to get urgent help for mental health.

It says:

"If you go to A&E, the staff should treat you with respect and look after any immediate physical and mental health needs. They should also refer you to a liaison psychiatry service or local Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team (CRHT)… and "decide on the best course of care."

Samaritans (UK wide)

The Samaritans is a UK wide helpline for anybody struggling with their mental health. If you prefer to communicate via message, you can text SHOUT on 85258. Both these services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

List of UK wide helplines

For a list of helplines and listening services, including the National Suicide Prevention Helpline, see Mental Health charity Mind’s website page for Helplines and listening services.

Nurse Lifeline (evenings)

Nurse Lifeline is a free listening service for all nurses, midwives, healthcare support workers, students, associates and the friends and family of such staff. All volunteers are nurses or midwives, offering you "space to offload and decompress....with another nurse or midwife who gets it." The line is open from 7pm - 10pm, Monday to Friday.

Switchboard LGBT+

Switchboard LGBT+ provides a one-stop listening service for LGBT+ people on the phone, by email and through Instant Messaging. All their volunteers identity as LGBTQ+ and they're available 10am - 10pm, everyday.


If you’re in Scotland you can contact Breathing Space. Interpreters are available if English is not your first language. The service is open 6pm to 2am on weekdays, and 6pm to 6am on weekends.

The Zero Suicide Alliance website also has some details of other support lines in Scotland.


If you’re in Wales you can contact the C.A.L.L helpline. See the to find out how to speak to someone via phone or via text. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Canopi is not an emergency helpline, but it does offer a free and confidential mental health support service for social and health care staff in Wales.

Northern Ireland

If you’re in Northern Ireland you can also contact the Lifeline freephone helpline. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Channel Islands

See Jersey ( Mental Health Network), Guernsey ( or Alderney (Island Medical centre).

The RCN counselling service is designed for brief therapy and general support only. We are not equipped or suitable to help you with a crisis situation.

If you are in a crisis, you need vital help from the services that have been especially designed (and are available 24/7) to help you, such emergency services, or emergency mental health provisions.

  • Emergency services can be reached by calling 999.
  • The The Samaritans are available 24/7 and can provide immediate support.
  • Your GP, Out of Hours, NHS 111 or local mental health services can offer appropriate assistance and guidance during urgent situations.
  • See Help for suicidal thoughts on the NHS website.
  • Reach out to someone you trust. Talk to a friend, family member, or any trusted person in your life. Sharing your thoughts or feelings can provide relief and support.

Remember, it's crucial to prioritise your safety and well-being in times of immediate distress. You are not alone, however it is important to realise that having suicidal thoughts is a serious matter and you should seek help.



Whatever you're going through, The Samaritans can offer emotional support over the phone, any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Advice on mental health and wellbeing 

Resources and self-help tools on topics such as depression, stress, domestic abuse, grief, relationships, trauma, and more.


The mental health charity, Mind,  is there to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone. Find out more by visiting their website.

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  • Mindfulness based videos for nursing staff
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