Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Assessing someone on the telephone

Where telephones are available, people may call you for advice. In fact, this can save time for both you and the caller by avoiding unnecessary visits to the clinic. Sometimes, a person may call you with a problem that is related to mental health. Examples of such calls could be:
• a person who wishes to die;
• a child who is in need of help;
• a person who is drunk and confused;
• a person who is angry and abusive.

Avoid giving vague advice or reassurance on the telephone.
You should approach callers as follows:
• Find out their name, age, address and which telephone
number they are calling from.
• Ask them to tell you exactly what the problem is, how it
started, what has happened recently. Get an idea of the
situation they are facing.
• Find out about any close friends or relatives to whom they can
talk. Encourage callers to share their distress with them now.
• If they are abusive or confused, explain that you would
like to help but cannot if they do not change their
attitude. If callers remain difficult, hang up the telephone.
• Ask them to come to the clinic if you feel they are in need of a face-to-face assessment.

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