It can be frightening when you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis. You may not know what to do. Here are ideas for navigating a crisis that you or someone you support may be experiencing. Creating a crisis plan can help minimize the trauma associated with a crisis, lead to a quick resolution, and improve your current situation.

Massachusetts Emergency Services Program (ESP)

The Emergency Services Program (ESP) provides crisis assistance statewide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The state toll-free number is 1-877-382-1609. You will be asked for your area code and directed to your local provider of emergency services. The direct numbers for your local Emergency Services Provider (ESP) are listed below.

The Emergency Services Program is designed to provide psychiatric evaluation and intervention to people of any age who are in crisis. Emergency mental health services are mobile and offer community services in homes, schools, and residential settings. ESPs provides crisis assessment and stabilization intervention services. Frequently, ESPs provide the initial mental health evaluation in local hospitals. Calling your ESP before going to an emergency department (ED) may expedite your ED waiting time.

Massachusetts Emergency Services Program Providers (ESP)

  Advocates Inc. 24-hour access number 1-800-640- 5432

East Area Direct Number- (800) 540-5806. Communities Served:
Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Waltham, Watertown, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn
West Area Direct Number - (800) 640-5432. Communities Served:
Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough

Community Healthlink, Inc. 24-hour access number: 1-800-977-5555

Communities Served: Bellingham, Blackstone, Brimfield, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Franklin, Holland, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millville Northbridge, North Brookfield, Oxford, Southbridge, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge Gales, Warren, Webster, West Brookfield

Riverside Community Care 24-hour access number: 1-800-294-4665

Milford Area 800-294-4665. Communities Served:
Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Franklin, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge
South and West of Boston: 800-529-5077. Communities Served:
Canton, Dedham, Dover, Foxboro, Medfield, Millis, Needham, Newton, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Sharon, Walpole, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Wrentham
Southbridge and Surrounding Communities: 877-750-3127. Communities Served:
Brimfield, Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Holland, North Brookfield, Oxford, Southbridge, Sturbridge, Wales, Warren, Webster, West Brookfield

Your Area Hospital Emergency Department 

You can go or you can take a loved one to a local hospital emergency room during a psychiatric emergence. All emergency departments are trained to handle such a crisis. However, not all hospitals have psychiatry departments and acute care psychiatric beds. When you contact the emergency department (ED) of an area hospital during a mental health crisis, tell them that you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis. If hospitalization is required, the ED must comply with the Department of Mental Health's (DMH) Expedited Inpatient Admissions Policy:

The policy states that the ED must follow certain protocols for locating acute care psychiatric beds. Once 96 hours have passed and a bed has not been identified, the ED should contact DMH. There is a shortage of intensive care psychiatric beds in Massachusetts. Do not be surprised if the bed located is many miles away. Let emergency personnel know your preference for a bed location well in advance. 

The following is a partial list of area hospitals with psychiatry departments and intensive care psychiatric beds:

Emerson Hospital
133 Old Road a Nine-Acre Corner Concord, MA 01742

UMass Memorial Health Hospital Marlborough
157 Union Street, Marlborough, MA 01752

MetroWest Medical Center
115 Lincoln St, Framingham, MA 01702
67 Union St, Natick, MA 01760

UMass Memorial Health
HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital
201 Highland Street, Clinton, MA 01510

UMass Memorial Emergencies
55 Lake Avenue, Worcester, MA 01605 

Milford Regional Medical Center
14 Prospect St, Milford, MA 01757

Local Police Department 

If a situation turns into an extreme crisis – particularly one with threat of violence, you may need to call 911 or the police. Let them know that this is a mental health crisis. There are things you can do to keep the situation as under control as possible. Over the phone, share as much information as you can with the dispatcher. Explain that this is a mental health crisis. If arriving police officers are unaware that a mental health crisis is occurring, they cannot adequately handle the situation.

Many communities have a crisis intervention team (CIT) program that trains law enforcement and other first responders to safely handle and respond to calls related to a psychiatric crisis. Not all police officers are trained by a CIT program, but you should request that a CIT officer be sent. Some Massachusetts communities have clinicians who accompany police officers to respond to mental health crises. You should understand when you call 911, a police care, an ambulance, and fire truck will respond.

During a crisis, law enforcement personnel are trained to maintain control and safety in the community. If you are concerned that law enforcement is overreacting, the best way to ensure a safe outcome is to remain calm. When an officer comes to your home, say "this is a mental health crisis." Mention that you can share any useful information, and then get out of the way. Yelling or getting too close to the officer is likely to make the officer feel like the situation is escalating.

Please note that when you call the police, and they decide to involuntarily transport you or your loved one to the ED you or they may be handcuffed and transported in the back of a police car. 

This is what law enforcement can do:

• Transport a person who wants to go to the hospital. A properly trained CIT officer can often talk to a person who is out of control, calm them down and convince them to come to the hospital voluntarily.
• Take a person to a hospital for an involuntary evaluation. In certain circumstances, the police may force a person in crisis to go to the hospital involuntarily for a mental health evaluation.
•If you are worried and unable to communicate with a loved one not living with you the police can perform a wellness check. For wellness checks, call the non-emergency number for your community police department and explain why you are concerned. Ask them to perform a wellness check. Ask for a CIT trained officer.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)

In 2020, Congress designated a new three-digit dialing code, 988, that will forward calls from callers to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). The change to 988 does not mean the Lifeline's current 800 number (1-800-273-8255) will go away. Dialing either number will forward people's calls to reach those services, no matter what number they use.

NAMI MetroWest at PO Box 123, Marlborough, MA, 01752

Help Line: 508 251 9595

Email: [email protected] .org

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