What Happens When You Go to the ER for Mental Health?

If you or someone you know is having a mental health emergency, it’s important to get help right away - even if it’s outside of business hours. Just as you would rush to the ER (Emergency Room) if you’re injured or in physical distress, you can also seek immediate help for your mental health. The healthcare team at the ER can keep you safe in the moment, evaluate you, and connect you to resources that will help you overcome and navigate your mental health struggles.

When Should You Go to the ER for Mental Health?

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, it's essential to know when the situation requires an ER visit. You should not wait to get help if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

If there's any doubt about whether an ER visit is necessary, it's always better to err on the side of caution and seek help immediately. 

What to Expect When You Go to the ER for Mental Health

The ER is there to handle all possible types of emergencies, so it can be busy and chaotic. It’s best to be prepared for this environment. Remember that the primary goal of ER staff is to keep people alive and stabilize their condition. Since patients with life-threatening injuries will be treated first, you may have to wait for a while to be seen. If possible, bring someone you trust with you to provide support during your visit.

When it's your turn, the staff will conduct a comprehensive assessment. They'll ask you a lot of questions to determine your status. Some of these questions might be uncomfortable or challenging to answer, but it's important to respond as truthfully as possible to ensure that you receive the appropriate assistance. This evaluation is done to determine the severity of your condition, prioritize your safety, and establish the best course of action. 

Depending on the results, you may be discharged with a recommendation to follow up with a mental health professional or, in more critical cases, you may be admitted to the hospital or transferred to a facility better equipped to provide specialized care.

Your ER visit may last several hours, and in some instances, you may be hospitalized for a few days. If the staff deems you a potential risk to yourself, they might temporarily confiscate any items that could be used for self-harm, so it's best to leave such items at home.

Ongoing Mental Health Care

If you can, it’s best to act before your mental health reaches a crisis state. If you are experiencing negative changes in your mental health, seek help from a mental health professional.

Emergency rooms are a vital resource in a mental health crisis, but they're often just the first step in a journey toward healing and recovery. Whether you are hospitalized or released that same day, be sure to follow up with a mental health professional. That way you can make a plan to ensure you continue improving, as well as a plan to prepare you in the event of another mental health emergency.

Medens Health offers comprehensive and compassionate mental health care throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona. Our team of mental health professionals is committed to providing you with the ongoing care and attention you need. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.