Mental Health Emergency
Call or Text 911 (ask for a CIT officer) or go to your nearest hospital emergency room if you can safely get there
Psychiatric Emergency Services are available at:
San Mateo Medical Center
222 West 39th Ave., San Mateo, CA, 94403
Phone: (650) 573-2662
Mills-Peninsula Medical Center
1501 Trousdale Dr., Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: (650) 696-5915
Get Immediate Help
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency or is in a life-threatening situation, call or text 911 and say: “I’m calling/texting about a mental health emergency and request a CIT (Crisis Intervention Trained) Officer.”
We all want to protect the people we love, but sometimes we cannot do it on our own. If a family member or friend is in a mental health crisis call the crisis hotlines below, or if they are at risk of harming themselves or others, call the police—even though you or your family member may be upset or afraid—to help ensure everyone’s safety. Below are guidelines on how to call/text 9-1-1 for a mental health emergency.
If you are concerned about someone who may be heading into a mental health crisis and needs help, call:
- San Mateo County Crisis Line (run by Starvista) at 1-650-579-0350 to speak with a confidential trained crisis counselor 24/7 or visit sanmateocrisis.org.
- National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255
- San Mateo Medical Center Psychiatric Emergency Services at 650-573-2662 for consultation
- Mills-Peninsula Medical Center Psychiatric Emergency Services at 650-696-5915 for consultation
- See crisis service for additional resources in San Mateo County.
Guidelines for Calling or Texting 911
- Be prepared: Become familiar with the guidelines on this page.
- Know to Ask for a Crisis Intervention Trained Officer (CIT): When you call/text 911, ask to have a CIT Officer dispatched if available as these officers are specially trained to respond to mental health emergencies. Watch a brief video about texting 911.
- Fill out the Information From Family Member form: Complete this form (English, Spanish) ahead of time. Send one copy to their mental health provider and keep extra copies on hand to give to hospital personnel if a mental health emergency occurs. The Information from Family Member form provides hospital personnel and mental health providers with important detailed information on your family member or friend’s mental health history. To request the form by mail or for questions about the form, call 1-800-388-5189
- Be prepared for a 5150 Hold: If your family member or friend is a danger to themselves or to others or is gravely disabled and unable to care for themselves, it may be necessary to place them on an involuntary hospital hold of up to 72 hours for additional help and evaluation.
- Find your closest Emergency Room: If you are able to safely drive your loved one before or during an emergency, go to your nearest Emergency Room for help (see addresses/phone numbers above).
Before calling/texting 9-1-1
- Know your rights: If the individual is putting you or themselves in danger, police need to step in and help. You have the right to ask for help and your loved one has a right to receive help.
- Try to remain calm: Take a few deep breaths so you can speak as slowly and calmly as possible.
- Remove harmful items: If possible, remove any items from the immediate area that could be used as a weapon, such as fire arms, knives, tools, or baseball bats.
During the call/text
- Try to make the call or text from a safe and quiet place where your family member or friend will not feel threatened by overhearing you.
- Tell police you are calling about a mental health emergency and request a CIT officer.
- Describe the situation in detail, such as whether your loved one is suicidal, aggressive, off their medication, or threatening someone.
- Listen carefully and answer the dispatcher’s questions so they have the information to help.
- Stay on the phone; emergency help is being dispatched. Do not hang up until you are asked to do so by the dispatcher.
What to say when calling/texting 911
- I’m calling about a Mental Health Emergency and request a CIT Officer.
- My name is:______________________.
- I’m calling from [your location].
- I’m calling because my [family member/friend] is: ___________________.
- Describe in detail what is going on right now.
- Advise police if there is information on file with law enforcement about the person in crisis.
- Ask if it’s possible to arrive without lights or sirens.
The 911 dispatcher will ask about the following: (be clear and brief)
- Are there any acts or threats of violence?
- Are there any weapons involved?
- Where is the person experiencing the emergency located?
- Has there been a suicide attempt or has the person made threats of suicide?
Once the dispatcher has this information, share the following about your loved one:
- The person’s mental health condition/diagnosis and mental healthcare provider
- Whether the person is intoxicated or overdosed
- Any medications the person is taking
- Whether the person is gravely disabled and unable to care for themselves
When the officer arrives
- Tell them what you’ve seen and heard—stick to the facts.
- Explain what is happening now.
- Let them know what has and has not worked in the past.
- If the person in crisis is being transported, find out where.
- Ask the police officer for their contact information for follow up.
Information From Family Member Form
Fill out the Information From Family Member form: Complete this form ahead of time. Send one copy to their mental health provider and keep extra copies on hand to give to hospital personnel if a mental health emergency occurs. The Information from Family Member form provides hospital personnel and mental health providers with important detailed information on your family member or friend’s mental health history. To request the form by mail or for questions about the form, call 1-800-388-5189
- Mental Health Emergency Guidelines for Calling 911 Brochure
- Quick Reference Wallet Card
Order Printed Materials
Community/county organizations, agencies, business and groups can order a supply of printed brochures and wallet cards for dissemination to the San Mateo County community at no cost. Submit a request using the online form.