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What To Do During a Psychiatric Crisis?

It is important that you seek help right away. We have posted hotline numbers as well as numbers for mobile crisis teams who may be able to come to your home and assist you or your family member in a crisis. 

What is a Psychiatric Crisis?

A psychiatric crisis includes but is not limited to: suicidal or homicidal thinking and/or behavior, acute psychotic symptoms, sudden change in mental status and violence. The steps progress from help for a person who is cooperative, to getting an emergency evaluation, to involuntary admission to a hospital.

Who to Call in a Psychiatric Crisis?

If you or someone you know is in physical danger, go to a safe place and call 911.

Crisis Hotlines in Maryland

Maryland's Helpline:

211 press 1 or text your zip code to 898-211.

  • Baltimore (Baltimore Crisis Response)


  • Howard County (Grassroots Crisis Hotline)


  • Baltimore County (Baltimore Crisis Response)


  • Montgomery County (Crisis Center)

240-777-4815 TTY


NAMI Maryland's crisis brochure describes steps to assist a person who is in a psychiatric crisis and needs help. Click below to access NAMI Maryland's, "What to do in a Psychiatric Crisis in Maryland," brochure.




When mental illness is present, the potential for crisis is never far from mind. Crisis episodes related to mental illness can feel incredibly overwhelming. There’s the initial shock, followed by a flood of questions—the most prominent of which is: “What can we do?”

People experiencing mental illness—and the people who care for them—need information. However, that information is not always readily available and the search for answers may require more energy and persistence than possible in times of crisis.


"Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency" (Crisis Guide) provides important, potentially life-saving information for people experiencing mental health crises and their loved ones. This guide outlines what can contribute to a crisis, warning signs that a crisis is emerging, strategies to help de-escalate a crisis, available resources and so much more.


Getting Answers When You Need Them

Like any other health crisis, it’s important to address a mental health emergency quickly and effectively. With mental health conditions, crises can be difficult to predict because, often, there are no warning signs. Crises can occur even when treatment plans have been followed and mental health professionals are involved. Unfortunately, unpredictability is the nature of mental illness.


Unlike other health emergencies, people experiencing mental health crises often don’t receive instructions or materials on what to expect after the crisis. That is why we created this guide, so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it. In the pages of our Crisis Guide, you’ll find:

  • Understanding mental health crises
  • Preparing for a crisis
  • What to do during a crisis
  • What to do following a crisis
  • A sample crisis plan

Share with Your Community

We encourage sharing these tools and resources in local communities, specifically with those who are most likely to be in contact with people experiencing a mental health emergency, like:

  • Emergency departments
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Primary care physicians
  • Court clerks where involuntary commitment processes are initiated
  • Anywhere a person in crisis might be seen for the first time


A Portable Treatment Record from the Crisis Guide is available for download and use to begin creating your personal crisis plan.


You can also download the following infographics. They cover warning signs, what to do if you expect someone is thinking about suicide and how to prepare for a crisis. These printable resources are a great way to spread awareness about what to do in a crisis.

Crisis Guide