Resources for Help in Crisis Circumstances

Frequently my clients find themselves in crisis situations without knowledge of where to go for help. The need for this type of knowledge was made alarmingly clear recently after reading about a local publisher who committed suicide apparently after having trouble finding help. Please advise on the steps my clients or I can take to gain access to quick help for emotional or family problems.

In the case of this tragic episode, it was reported that one of the calls was made to a psychologist referral service that unbeknownst to the caller had been temporarily suspended. However, in general a referral service is not a crisis line. It can be a good way to get referred to an appropriate clinical provider, but usually not on an immediate basis. It is also preferable to seek help before a problem reaches crisis proportions.

In a non-crisis situation, you can seek a referral through an acquaintance who has had a good past experience (although the therapist may not be affiliated with your HMO), through your primary care physician, or through an assistance program like LCL. At LCL, a match will be made based on type of problem, geographic and other logistics, and insurance type.

In a crisis situation, however, particularly outside of business hours or if you are unable to reach your primary care physician, you should call the mental health phone number shown on your insurance card or go directly to a hospital emergency room, preferably one that is covered by your health insurance. If the professional at the ER believes that your immediate safety is at risk, you may be referred to an inpatient facility. Psychiatric stays in hospitals are generally between three and ten days.

If you are safe and want only to speak with a caring volunteer, you may call a crisis line like the Samaritans at 617/247-0220, or CONTACT at 617/244-4350. Regardless of what measure you take to get through a crisis, the most lasting help will most likely come from sustained outpatient treatment, meaning counseling/psychotherapy, and medication when needed. However, as a safeguard it’s not a bad idea to keep emergency service information within easy reach.

preload preload preload