HomeWhat to do in a crisis

What to do in a crisis

The most important thing is that a person experiencing a crisis is able to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe space and is supported.

What is a crisis?

The word crisis can have a variety of meanings depending on the individual and their circumstances.

Common feelings that can occur during a crisis are distress, helplessness, panic, a loss of hope, no longer being able or wanting to cope with life’s difficulties or a loss of connection or understanding of reality.

What to do in a crisis

How a crisis can be resolved will vary depending on the person’s wishes and needs.

Some people find that a conversation with a person that they trust can be helpful, whilst others feel that they need to visit their local emergency department, book an emergency GP appointment, a counselling session or use a helpline.

Getting help for yourself

Reach out to someone you can trust. This could be a loved one, a friend or a professional. Sometimes just being listened to and understood can start to ease the burden and provides a sense of hope that can help you to start to feel better.

There may be things that you, or others can do to help you work through and make sense of how you feel, helping you to find a way forward. Remember you are never alone and that overwhelming feelings won’t last forever, with some support you can and will feel better.

Ways to get help

  • Speak to a trusted friend or family member
  • Use a 24/7 helpline (a list can be found at the bottom of this page)
  • Ring your GP for an emergency appointment. (In a crisis, you should be offered an appointment with the first available doctor.)
  • If you feel in immediate danger you can ring 999 or visit your local emergency department.
  • If you are feeling suicidal there are some resources from people who have overcome similar feelings and situations that can be found via Staying Safe. This includes videos, information on safety plans and more.
  • Remember that overwhelming feelings won’t last forever and with some support you can feel better.

Getting help for someone else

You may not know exactly how a person feels but taking the time to listen and explaining that you care can truly help to work through a painful experience.

When someone feels overwhelmed by their thoughts or circumstances it can be hard to see a way out. Remind them that they are not alone and that together you can find a way to get the right support. It’s important that they realise that with a little help they can overcome even the most painful times.

What you can do to help

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a clearer picture of what the person wants in order to overcome a crisis.
  • A caring conversation is so important, explain that you care and want to help.
  • Do not minimise how they are feeling, be open, non-judgemental, and honest about your concerns.
  • If they are feeling suicidal and you are worried about their safety, stay with them and ring 999 or accompany them to an emergency department. Keep the person informed of what you’re doing and reassure them that you are getting help.
  • Share your concerns with relatives, the person’s loved ones – make sure that they are supported at all times until the feelings have passed.
  • Ring their GP for an emergency appointment or try NHS direct 0845 46 47 and 111 out of hours
  • Visit the Staying Safe website, watch some of the videos together to see how people have overcome feeling suicidal and consider supporting the person to write a safety plan.
  • Stay with the person until they have received the right support and are feeling better, this involves the person you are worried about having additional support or an assessment from a suitably qualified person.


There are a number of dedicated support lines that are open all day, every day where you can speak to someone confidentially about any difficulties you might be having.

  • Samaritans: available over the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call them on 116 123 for free. Samaritans also offer a free text service.
  • C.A.LL Helpline: offers emotional support and information/literature on Mental Health and related matters to the people of Wales.
  • Young Minds: text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger, for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. If you need urgent help text YM to 85258. All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
  • Young Minds also offer a helpline for parents and guardians: 0808 802 5544.
  • Papyrus: for people under 35 and those supporting them Papyrus offer a Hopeline which can be contacted on 0800 068 4141.
  • CALM – campaign against living miserably – a helpline for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. We’re open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year: 0800 58 58 58.

Suicidal thoughts

Staying Safe from suicidal thoughts is a platform that offers compassion, kindness and easy ways to help keep people safer from thoughts of harm and suicide, seek support and discover hope of recovery through powerful videos from people with personal experience.

Visit the website and access their free videos and tools.


Talking therapies can help you to work through your feelings and difficult times that you may be experiencing.

A counselling session involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to move towards a positive mental health recovery. There are many counselling approaches and information about these can be found on Breathe’s website.

Breathe is our counselling and wellbeing centre based in Cardiff. If you are based elsewhere in Wales you can use this counselling directory.

Support Groups

Many people find that speaking to people who have experienced similar challenges or difficulties can be beneficial. Why not research if your local area hosts a support group for any of the challenges that are facing? If there’s nothing available in your area remember to check for online groups or forums – these are often run by charities.

Find out about how some of the people we have worked with have overcome crises and difficult times here.