The Rise of Mental Health related 999 Calls

 25th Sep 2017

According to emergency services there has been a sharp increase in the number of mental health related 999 calls.

The metropolitan police reported receiving a call every 5 minutes which equates to 315 a day. That’s a 33% increase over 3 years and comes with a 60% increase in referrals to the NHS mental health crises team.

The police believe the increase is due to the NHS 111 line and other health services being over stretched and unable to cope with the demand caused by ever diminishing budgets across the organisation.


With one of the main catalysts of mental health issues socio-economic in nature it is perhaps unsurprising that mental health issues are in the increase, particularly in young people and millennials, many of whom bore the brunt of the economic downturn.

Regardless of the cause there is unquestionably a growing issue with knowing what to do if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis.

NHS guidance is quite clear:

  • Contact NHS 111
  • Make an emergency GP appointment
  • Visit A&E or call 999

So it seems that those experiencing a crisis are following the advice but are going through to the police instead.

This could be because the police refer them to the crisis team thus bypassing the usual process that someone calling 111 or presenting at A&E would have to follow.

According to some reports individuals in a state of crisis are committing crimes in order to obtain treatment.

This is because under sections 135 and 136 of the mental health act, the police are allowed to detain someone when they believe a person is unable to take care of themselves or they believe a person to have a mental health disorder.

Either way they can remove the individual to a safe place – be it a hospital or a police station – and can hold them for up to 72 hours until, they have been assessed.

Considering some people are waiting up to a year to be seen by a mental health professional in some areas of the UK, it’s hardly surprising that individuals in a state of crisis are resorting to such desperate measures.

We can’t advocate shorting the system in this way of course and it is far better to arrange an emergency appointment with you GP and talk through the options available to you.

However, if you do feel you are in crisis going to A&E is still a far better approach than contacting the police.

In the meantime, there are a few stop gaps measures that can help to keep you level until you get the support you need:

1. Reach out to someone

No matter how bleak things may seem, no one is ever truly alone. If you are in a state of crisis then reaching out to someone – be they your best friend, a family member of even the Samaritans – is one of the best things you can do to cope with the challenge you face.

We promise, no one is too busy, you are important enough; you are just as deserving as everyone else to get some additional love and support.

2. Get some exercise

Although you may not feel like it, try to get out and about – even if it’s just for a walk. The human body finds exercise very satisfying so it will floor your mind with endorphins which will lift you mood.

Plus completing a long walk, a bike ride or even going to the gym will give you a sense of accomplishment.

By extension, try to avoid alcohol and unhealthy foods, especially anything high in sugar. It will give you system a brief boost but the resulting crash will make you feel worse than before.

3. Do something you enjoy

Again, if you’re in a state of crisis this may be easier said than done but even if it’s just reading a book, watching your favourite movie or breaking out the Christmas classics because they make you feel good, that’s fine.

Indulging in the things you love helps to occupy your mind and fill your time.

4. Avoid isolating yourself

Do your best to still see people, even if it’s just for short periods of time. We also advocate honesty with regards to your challenges.

Hiding it from the people you care about creates barriers that only get bigger and thicker as time moves on.

What you’re going through is lonely enough so being a little bit brave in order to surround yourself with understanding, supportive people is worth it.

5. Don’t blame yourself

This is not a failing on your part. You haven’t done something wrong nor are you broken, defective or wrong. You are just facing challenges that, with the right support, you can overcome.

This is something entirely beyond your sphere of influence and represents a freak culmination of brain chemistry and circumstance.

Accepting this means you can be open to the notion of improving or even recovery.

Being compassionate to you is the first step towards that end.


We support individuals with enduring mental health issues. If you would like further advice or you live in the Dorset area and would like to explore the possibility of engaging our services, contact us today.

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