Who to Call for Help

If you assist someone with schizophrenia, find the hotline crisis number for your area by visiting http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/hotlines/state.asp, which keeps an updated list of twenty-four-hour crisis lines organized by state. Find the name of your state and write down the number or numbers. Keep a copy in your wallet and around your home so it will be at hand if and when you need it. Program it into your cell phone and landline.

In addition, make sure you do the same for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which offers immediate advice to anyone seeking mental health assistance twenty-four hours a day. The toll-free phone number is (800) 273-TALK (273-8255). Your call does not have to concern suicide. You can get advice concerning any mental health-related crisis including psychotic episodes. Your confidential call will be routed to one of more than 130 crisis centers around the United States. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also offers referrals to local mental health services and access to a crisis worker with whom you can talk about someone you want to help.

If you contact a psychiatrist, describe the symptoms completely. Don't assume that she can know anything other than what you report. Be her eyes and ears. Then you should express your concerns to her. Answer any questions the psychiatrist has and follow her advice.

What to Tell Emergency Responders

If you have to call the police or rescue squad, be sure you fill them in on the situation before they confront the patient. They need to know they are dealing with a mentally ill individual who is having a psychotic episode. They need to know if the person is threatening to harm himself or others. They need to know if the person is armed with any weapon, improvised or not, that he could use to injure himself or others. Tell them they are being asked for help in getting the patient to medical care, not to arrest him. Tell the police the name of the patient's doctor and where she practices.

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  4. Who to Call for Help
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