Tag Archives: mental illneess

How to call 911 from out of town

If you are worried about someone who lives in a different 911 service area and seems to be experiencing serious mental health symptoms such as psychosis (seeing or hearing things that others around are not experiencing), suicidal thoughts, panic, or other troubles for which you want to summon emergency responders, this is how you can reach their 911 service:

1. Using a search engine, type the name of their city, or the nearest city if they live in a small town, and the phrase “crisis line” or “mental health crisis line” and call that number. When they answer just say, “I’m out of state and I need you to send 911 to this address____.” And then you can tell that crisis line operator, in a quick sentence or two, something about the mental health symptoms and your reason for seeking emergency help.

2. Using a search engine, type the name of their city, or the nearest city if they live in a small town, and the phrase “police phone number” to get the full phone number for a desk at the police department. You might land on a page with a list of multiple police phone numbers in that city. If you don’t know which division or department to choose, just call the “headquarters” number. Headquarters is the standard word for the main police office and anyone answering the phone there will know how to dispatch help.

Here are some examples of how these searches should look:

Springfield Tennessee police phone
Several states have cities called Springfield, so this example reminds you to include the state name when the city name is not unique.

Philadelphia crisis line
You don’t have to worry about the possibility that they use the word “hotline” or “number” or something similar in their name. All of these 24-hour mental health emergency services have the phrase “crisis line” built into their site so that search engines will get callers to them.

Abilene mental health crisis
Maybe it’s a “center” or a “clinic” or some other type of facility. Don’t worry about that technicality. If you put the city name and the words mental-health-line in your search, you will find a number that you can call immediately and reach someone who can summon local first responders for the person you are worried about.

States Using Prisons to Replace Mental Hospitals

In a January 2019 article titled Prisons are Housing Mental Health Patients Who’ve Committed No Crimes the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal describes legal cases in which people who are involuntarily committed for mental health treatment are taken to psychiatric facilities in prisons, rather than hospitals in the community, even though they have not been convicted of crimes. The article details the legal arguments that lawyers are using to fight against this practice and explains the economic and political circumstances that have led to this practice.

Although some people think that involuntary commitment is simply a medical determination, it is not. It is a legal order in which a medical assessment is primary evidence. But this legal order comes from civil court, not criminal court and it is not meant to subject patients to prison rules, prison clothing, or the other aspects of criminal punishment.

Chapter 5 of Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law: A Practical Handbook is about involuntary commitment. Chapter 12 is about the rights of people with mental illness in jails and prisons.

Treatment Standards

Every state has a “mental health code” containing laws about mental health treatment. These laws identify the various forms of voluntary and involuntary commitment available in the state, establish standards for evaluating and serving mental health patients, and explain how the state will enforce proper mental health treatment practices. Simply enter your state name and the phrase “mental health code” in a search engine to find your state’s laws on these topics.