When someone falls seriously ill or injures themselves, they require immediate medical attention to allow them to get better as soon as possible—why should mental health be any different? 

At present, accessing timely mental health care in the U.S. is challenging, and there is a pressing need for greater accessibility. Mental health challenges are more prevalent than ever in our country. With fewer psychiatrists and psychologists available and long waits for care, many people end up stuck on waiting lists or unable to get help when they need it. There's a growing need for mental health services that can be accessed quickly.

If you clicked on this article, you may be wondering about the benefits of immediate care and how you can advocate for it for yourself or your loved one. This article is designed to explain the benefits and the types of organizations that make immediate mental health support possible.


What Is Immediate Care for Mental Health? 

Unlike emergency care, which is recommended for life-threatening illnesses, injuries, or mental health crises, immediate mental health care focuses on providing timely assistance and support for individuals whose symptoms do not require a visit to an emergency department but who would benefit from prompt support.

A key aspect of immediate care is accessibility, which allows for easier access to treatment when you need it most. This could mean connecting with a psychiatrist, therapist, or psychologist through phone consultations or in-person appointments on the same day you need to access care.

Immediate mental health support may include: 

  • Hotlines or helplines
  • Text lines
  • Teletherapy and online counseling
  • Mobile services
  • Peer support services
  • Mental health centers

Why Access to Immediate Care Is Important for Mental Health

The American Psychological Association has reported an increase in mental health conditions over the last year. This means more and more people are in need of professional help, yet the current number of mental health clinicians and psychiatrists is not enough to meet the demand. As a result, the average time it takes to see a psychologist is three months—and this can be even longer for a psychiatrist. The average wait time to see a psychiatrist is 67 days for in-person appointments and 43 days for telepsychiatry appointments. 

Long wait times can make symptoms worse and make it difficult to function in day-to-day life. As symptoms worsen and waitlists grow, many have no choice but to enter the emergency room for support. However, emergency rooms often have long wait times, waiting rooms are crowded, and can provide less effective care for non-life-threatening conditions compared to specialized treatment. Utilizing emergency rooms in these instances may lead to repeat visits or more intensive care than originally needed.

Ultimately, the necessity of early intervention and prevention measures emphasize the importance of online and more immediate interventions. By addressing mental health concerns quickly and effectively, individuals can receive the support they need without their symptoms escalating to the point of visiting an emergency room or needing inpatient admission.

For these reasons, it’s clear why there’s a growing need for more immediate services beyond the ER.

Parents with their child reading about possible mental health care solutions


Situations When Immediate Care Is Needed

So, when is immediate care for mental health necessary? The truth is that there is no one universal answer to this question. However, some examples of when to seek immediate solutions for mental health care include: 

  • When timely intervention can prevent waiting at emergency rooms or hospitalization
  • When outpatient therapy results are not progressing at a satisfactory rate
  • When people want to achieve their full potential by learning new coping skills and strategies
  • When individuals are unable to function effectively, whether it is at home, work, or school due to their mental health
  • When patients need medication adjustments and would find it helpful to see a psychiatrist within 48 hours
  • When a person’s symptoms or diagnosis requires therapists, psychiatrists, and family therapists to work together for optimal treatment
  • When an individual experiences non-suicidal self-injury or related urges, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, or when there is a general concern for safety and wellbeing
  • Virtual: When there are barriers to finding in-person help or finding help within the community they are in
  • When a patient has been recently discharged from psychiatric hospitalization

While these situations are serious, they aren’t always life-threatening crises or emergencies. Compass Health Center is committed to assisting individuals in need of immediate support. Our contact center is accessible seven days a week, including evening hours, at 877.552.6672, and our compassionate team is prepared to support callers by referring them for a mental health assessment with one of our specialists or to partnering clinicians, organizations, or other community resources, as needed. In applicable situations, we also direct callers to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Remember, you are not alone; we are here to help and support you through challenging times. 

In an emergency, we urge callers to dial 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department immediately.

The Benefits of Immediate Care

1. Immediate Intervention

Look for Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) programs that offer immediate access to care to address your concerns before they escalate into a life-threatening crisis. It takes courage to ask for mental health help, and you shouldn’t have to wait weeks, or even months, to get the support you need after finding the strength to reach out. 

2. Accessible Support

Mental health services such as PHP and IOP programs, which prioritize immediate access to care, are often more readily available than traditional outpatient and inpatient mental health care options. With the rise of teletherapy platforms, online counseling, and 24/7 crisis hotlines, support can be accessed from anywhere at any time.

3. Reduced Stigma

Immediate mental health care can help normalize conversations about mental health. By offering confidential and nonjudgmental support, these services create safe spaces for individuals to seek help without discrimination or social stigmatization.

4. Preventative Measures

By intervening early, immediate mental health services can prevent symptoms from worsening, providing you with the tools and support needed to manage depression, anxiety, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), school anxiety and refusal, and other mental health concerns.

 Two males talking in a group therapy session


Find Immediate Care at Compass Health Center

If you’re struggling to manage your mental health symptoms, you shouldn’t have to wait to get help. You deserve access to the care and support you need when you need it. 

At Compass Health Center, we’re proud to provide immediate access to mental health care services for children, teenagers, young adults, and adults (ages five and up). We provide:

  • Same or next day starts
  • Psychiatrist visit within 24 hours of starting a program
  • Specialization in complex diagnoses
  • Weekly check-ins with a dedicated psychiatrist/nurse practitioner
  • 100% in-person or virtual care 

Our services include specialized mental health programs for OCD, anxiety, depression, trauma, school anxiety and refusal, bipolar disorder, and more. No matter what you are experiencing, you can trust the team at Compass Health Center to make time for you and help you access the support you need. 

Talk to a trained, compassionate professional without a visit to the emergency room. Contact us today to get started—we’re here for you. 

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