Mental Health Emergency (Children & Young People)

Emergency Criteria for Out of Hours’ Referrals

All emergency referrals occurring outside of normal working hours will be directed initially to the Outreach Services for the Children & Adolescents (OSCA) team, based in Swindon.  The OSCA team will provide a first response for all emergency clinical enquiries; they will provide consultation and advice and/or co-ordinate a psychiatric assessment if clinically indicated within 24 hours as a maximum.

The criteria would include someone who:

  • Is at significant risk of harm to self or others with mental health identified as the key contributing factor
  • Is presenting with severe psychotic symptoms
  • Is presenting with anorexia with serious physical side effects and/or rapid weight loss (e.g. BMI below 15, pulse rate 45 and below with low blood pressure) or co-morbidity with low mood/depression/suicidal ideation. Please note: Consideration should initially be given to referral to Paediatric or medical teams in the first instance if there is serious concern about the physical state
  • Is presenting symptoms of severe depression with suicidal ideation
  • Is presenting with significant self harm by overdose or significant self-injury e.g. hanging

Worried families can call the out-of-hours’ GP service, go to A&E, or call the police, depending on the severity of the situation. One of these may then refer you to one of the one of the on-call Senior Mental Health Practitioners (SMHPs) based in Swindon, who will be able to co-ordinate an appropriate response. This may be to listen and reassure a parent/carer etc. and agree what happens next. This may be a referral to CAMHS (if the patient is not already known to them), or to expedite the next appointment (if the patient is already known). 

If Someone You Know is Threatening to Harm Him/Herself

All threats of suicide should be taken seriously. It is a myth that those who say they are going to kill themselves won’t carry out the act.  In fact, many people who die by suicide will have made comments beforehand about not feeling that life is worth living, or may have previously attempted suicide. Often those who are feeling suicidal do not really want to die, but they are so overwhelmed by negative feelings or circumstances that they are unable to see any other option.

If someone is in immediate danger e.g. they are threatening to jump off a high building, or they have admitted to taking an overdose:

  • Dial 999 without hesitation

If you feel that someone is at risk of harming themselves, or they are threatening to kill themselves:

  • Talk to them about their feelings and listen to what they have to say without making any judgements. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to talk. Avoid using statements such as, “I know how you feel”, “It can’t be that bad” or, worst of all, “Pull yourself together”
  • If you are with the suicidal person, do not leave them alone
  • Seek professional help. There are a number of organisations that offer confidential suicide prevention advice as follows:

- Papyrus: Tel: HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41
- CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably): Tel: 0800 802 58 58
- The Samaritans: Tel: 0845 790 90 90


CAMHS Okus Road Swindon SN1 4JS Tel: 01793 294646
Swindon Mind 1 Regents Circus Swindon SN1 1PN Tel: 01793 432031
On Trak Victoria Road Swindon SN1 3DF Tel: 01793 612969 Email:
Swindon & District Samaritans 6 Curtis Street Swindon SN1 5JU Tel: 01793 527373
Sane: a leading UK mental health charity
LIFT Psychology in Swindon
Young Minds: The voice for young people’s mental health and wellbeing

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