Mental Health Crisis/Emergencies

What are some Suicide Warning Signs?

Drug or alcohol use is increased or problematic

Often feels like a burden to others

Extreme moods swings are displayed

Sleeps too little or too much

No HOPE for the future; does NOT have a reason to live

Overwhelming anger to the point of RAGE or talks about seeking revenge

Trapped/ HELPLESS feeling or unbearable pain is experienced

Ways of ending life (PLANNING) are sought by the person

Agitated-Anxious or reckless behavior is engaged in

Isolates themselves and withdraws

Talks about wanting to die/end life/kill themselves and may even give away belongings


What should I do in a Mental Health Crisis/Emergency?


Mental Health Emergencies Procedure
  • Notify Public Safety.
    • Public Safety is available through the University Command Center at 267-341-3333or the call boxes located in resident halls, buildings and/or the parking lots. For Newtown Campus call: 267-341-4011. Public Safety will contact a Counselor to assist in the emergency.
  • If you perceive the emergency to be immediately life-threatening or the student is not on campus, obtain an outside line and dial 911, giving complete details of the problem, including exact location. Notify Public Safety immediately following calling 911.
  • Other options for emergency mental health help include:
    • Contact Mobile Crisis/Mental Health Delegate in your area (Mental Health Delegate of Philadelphia at 215-685-6440)
    • Go to the nearest emergency room/crisis response center
    • Call The Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

When the Mental Health Emergency occurs after normal business hours (before 8 am and after 4pm) and the student is on campus, the Counseling Center can typically provide a telephone safety assessment via our On-call system. In order to reach a Counselor, students, faculty, and staff should call Public Safety at 267-341-3333 to report the emergency and arrange for an assessment.

When a Mental Health Emergency occurs during normal business hours (between 8am and 4pm) and the student is on campus, the Counseling Center can typically provide an in-person safety assessment at the center (Campus Center rooms 202 and 204). Students, faculty, and staff should call Public Safety at 267-341-3333 to report the emergency and arrange for an assessment. You can also call the Counseling Center at 267-341-3222 during regular daytime hours, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM. However, we are sometimes not at our desk. Public Safety is the quickest way to get emergency assistance. Students requesting an emergency appointment at the counseling center are expected to accommodate the time offered for an appointment, missing a class if necessary. When Counseling Staff is unavailable to perform this assessment, the student will need to be referred to local emergency services.

NOTE: Do not send emergency communication via voicemail or email, as voicemails and emails will not be reviewed in a timely fashion that an emergency warrants, and they are not guaranteed confidential and will not be checked off hours. If the matter you are calling the center for cannot wait for a return call or email, Public Safety should be contacted 267-341-3333. Public Safety can contact the Counselor on-call and/or arrange for emergency response via the Mental Health Delegate of Philadelphia at 215-685-6440. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 1-800-273-TALK (8255).



What qualifies as a mental health emergency?

When it comes to mental health concerns, they are serious and many behaviors/symptoms are concerning. When deciding if behaviors/symptoms rise to the level of being a mental health emergency, for which immediate assessment and care is needed, you want to consider whether or not there is reason to be concerned for the immediate safety of the student. Immediate concerns for safety are referred to as “Life Threatening Behaviors.”

Life-threatening behaviors

  • Immediate Safety Concerns related to Suicide or Homicide (thoughts, plan, or actions to harm self or someone else).
  • Behavior or Thoughts that you observe or that are reported to you that indicated an immediate concern for the student or others safety.
    • Hearing or seeing things that are not present
    • Having engaged in recent self-injurious behavior where the wound is worrisome/bleeding/health compromising
    • Not making verbal sense or are unable to respond to simple questions
    • Acting very bizarrely
    • Not able to care for basic needs (i.e. not eating and drinking, not taking care of hygiene, not sleeping)
    • Mentally confused or disoriented
    • Not aware of day and time, where you are, who you are
    • Act of sexual violence or other trauma has just occurred where the student is asking to speak to a Counselor (we do not want to force those who have been the victim of a trauma to see a Counselor if they are not ready)

**The above warrant immediate attention by a mental health provider. While Counseling Services does not offer a 24-hour emergency response center, it does offer support and consultation during mental health emergencies.


What if I am feeling really upset, depressed, or anxious, but it is not an emergency?

There are several things you can do in times of great distress, when it is not a crisis situation or emergency as described above. Some things that you may be able to do immediately to relieve some of your distress include:

  • Journal or write down your thoughts in any creative way you can think of such as poetry, music lyrics, etc.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or adult role model
  • Practice relaxation techniques or meditate (check out our self-help link!)
  • Listen to soothing music or watch a comforting or funny movie
  • Exercise or do anything active such as take a walk or play a sport
  • Color, draw, craft, paint, etc.
  • Distract yourself with any healthy and soothing activity you can think of

If you would like to speak with a counselor, make an appointment with the Counseling Center. If you are in a high level of distress, you may want to speak to someone right away. You can do this by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. If you would rather speak to someone online, text the word “HOME” to 741741.  Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information.