If someone has tried to harm themselves or someone else, or you think they are about to, call triple zero (000) immediately or go with them to an emergency department.
Another option in a crisis is to contact your local crisis assessment and treatment team (CATT). This is a team that provides immediate help during a mental health crisis. Experiencing or caring for someone during a mental health crisis can be frightening but help is available 24 hours a day.
What is a crisis assessment and treatment team?
A CATT is a group of people who work together and includes mental health professionals such as psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists. They are based in major hospitals. In some parts of Australia they are called Psychiatric Emergency Teams (PET).
What does a CATT do?
A CATT responds to urgent requests to help people in mental health crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A mental health crisis can include:
It might be the flare-up of an existing condition like schizophrenia or someone's first experience of mental illness. There might be an obvious cause for the crisis, or there might not be.
Whether at home or elsewhere, the CATT assesses the person's current mental state, their psychiatric history, what social support they have and more. They will work with the person involved and their family and/or carer to determine the best way to help.
One option is to provide intensive treatment, care and support at home, and this is what they hope to do. But there are times when treatment in hospital is needed. If so, they will help the person get to hospital by arranging referrals and transport.
CATTs also work with other services such as police, ambulance, alcohol and drug services, child protection and community services where necessary.
How do I get help?
To find your local CATT or PET team, ring your closest major public hospital.
If you need help now, call your state's mental health crisis line for immediate expert support. They will help you work out which services can best help. This could be the doctor, a hospital emergency department or a community mental health service. Sometimes, the CATT will be sent to you, wherever you are.
- ACT — 1800 629 354 FREE— Mental Health Triage Service.
- NSW — 1800 011 511 FREE — Mental Health Line.
- NT — 1800 682 288 — Northern Territory Mental Health Line.
- QLD — 1300 MH CALL (1300 642255) FREE — 24-hour specialist mental healthcare.
- SA — 13 14 65 FREE — Mental Health Triage Service.
- TAS — 1800 332 388 FREE — Mental Health Service Helpline.
- VIC — Victoria's Mental Health Services — See website for services in your area.
- WA — 1800 676 822 FREE — Mental Health Emergency Response Line.
What happens after the CATT has helped?
The CATT will make sure you are supported during the crisis. Once the crisis has passed, the CATT then provides referrals to health and community services that can provide longer-term care.
Are CATTs the same across Australia?
CATTs are called by different names across Australia, but they perform essentially the same roles. They're known as:
- CATT in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT
- acute care teams (run by each health district) in Queensland and NSW
- the Acute Community Intervention Service in Victoria
- the Mental Health Triage Service in South Australia, and
- the Mental Health Emergency Response Line in Western Australia
The NSW Police Force has a similar team called the Mental Health Intervention Team.
For more information
You can find more help and support at:
- Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online.
- Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467.
- SANE Australia — Get help.
- Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
- Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help.
If you're not sure what to do, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or use the healthdirect Symptom Checker.
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Last reviewed: October 2019