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CATT – the crisis assessment and treatment team

4-minute read

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).

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 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.

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:

The NSW Police Force has a similar team called the Mental Health Intervention Team.

Resources and support

You can find more help and support at:

If you're not sure what to do, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) or use the healthdirect Symptom Checker.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2021

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