Emergency situations

In an emergency or life-threatening situation, it is important to ensure that the individual gets professional help immediately.

These times can be intimidating and you may feel guilty about being proactive when it involves getting others involved even if the person does not want them involved. Remind yourself that this could be due to a serious medical condition for which there is treatment. Emergency service providers are familiar and aware of mental health conditions and are there to help.

The person may agree to have you take them to an appropriate service such as the emergency department of your local hospital or you can call 911.

Calling 911 will link you to a dispatcher who will ask you if you need: Police, Ambulance or Fire. Communicate what you observe is happening in the moment, what you are concerned about and that you and your loved one need help. The dispatcher will ask you specific questions. Take a deep breath and answer them as best as possible. Try to be as descriptive as you can – i.e. what you see and what you hear from the person, the situation you are involved with, and any major concerns such as weapons or means to self-harm. It’s important for the 911 operator to understand both what is happening and what you fear could happen so they can send the appropriate resources. This process may seem lengthy but resources are usually underway even while you’re still speaking with the dispatcher.

Did You Know
All Canadian provinces and territories have legislation to treat and protect people with severe mental disorders and to protect the public.

Police are authorized to initiate what is called an apprehension under Section 28 under the BC Mental Health Act. This is a way police can ensure a person gets to the hospital for emergency psychiatric assessment. In order for police to take a person to hospital, the officer must believe the person has an apparent mental illness and is an imminent risk to themselves and/or others.

The main purpose of the BC Mental Health Act is to provide authority, criteria and procedures for voluntary and involuntary admission and treatment.

The Guide to the Mental Health Act provides information about BC’s Mental Health Act.