Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ provides general information and specific resources for people in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

For additional information, e-mail us at info@NAMIMainLinePA.org or contact your local NAMI affiliate (use Find Your Local NAMI available at http://www.NAMI.org/get-involved/join).

1. What should I do if I or someone I know is having a mental health crisis?
2. What help is available for children and teens with mental illness and their families?
3. How can someone with mental illness get government services such as income support and health insurance?
4. How can I find mental health services?
5. How can an adult with mental illness find housing?
6. How can an adult with mental illness find social opportunities or a support group?
7. How can a family member of someone with mental illness find information, resources, help and/or support?
8. What can I do if my loved one with mental illness refuses treatment?
9. What can I do if my loved one has been arrested or is at risk of being arrested?

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1. What should I do if I or someone I know is having a mental health crisis?

If there is an immediate danger of physical harm, call 911.
Otherwise, it may be preferable to call the crisis line call the crisis line where the person who is having a mental health crisis is located. These crisis lines provide access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to staff who are specifically trained for dealing with mental health crises. This may reduce the risk that a mental health crisis will result in an arrest.

For crisis line numbers in the Philadelphia area, click here (https://namimainlinepa.org/crisis-numbers/). 
If you are outside the Philadelphia area, you can call a national hotline (800-273-8255) or text “PA” to the Crisis Text Line: 741-741 to be referred to the closest crisis center.  Lifeline Chat, available 24/7, is a service of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which connects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Advice to help you cope with, prepare for, and prevent a crisis is provided at https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-for-coping-with-preparing-for-and-preventing-a-crisis/

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2. What help is available for children and teens with mental illness and their families?

Mental illness in children and adolescents can have different symptoms and require different treatment than mental illness in adults, so it is advisable to seek out professionals who have expertise with children or adolescents. 

Please visit https://namimainlinepa.org/support/services-for-children-and-teens/ for information and resources related to mental and behavioral health problems in children and teens. Information for transition age youth (ages 16-24) is available at https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-for-transition-age-youth-with-mental-illness/.

Additional information, including information about behavioral health providers and schooling in the Philadelphia area, is available via our Intro to Services here and Resource Guide here.

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3. How can someone with mental illness get government services such as income support and health insurance?

Many individuals with severe mental illness will find it necessary, or at least helpful, to apply for disability income and Medicaid and/or Medicare. Helpful information and advice about eligibility and application procedures are available at

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4. How can I find mental health services?

Choosing the Right Mental Health Professional provides general advice about choosing and working with a mental health care provider, as well as suggestions for finding a mental health professional.  Additional information about finding mental health services, communicating with mental health professionals (despite HIPAA), and paying for services and medications is available at https://namimainlinepa.org/info-resources/mi-help/#mental-illnesses-and-treatments.

Community mental health services are provided by each county; these usually are available on a sliding scale basis and include case management, which can provide access to housing and many other services. For information about community mental health services and behavioral health providers in the Philadelphia area, visit:

For information for other locations, call the NAMI Helpline, 800-950-NAMI, or contact your local NAMI affiliate (using Find Your Local NAMI available at http://www.NAMI.org/get-involved/join) and/or your County Office of Behavioral Health or Mental Health/Mental Retardation.  

Information about how to understand and navigate inpatient hospitalization can be found here.

Information about assistance in paying for prescriptions is available at https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Getting-Help-Paying-for-Medications .

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5. How can an adult with mental illness find housing?

For helpful advice, an overview of types of housing for adults with mental illness, and resources for finding housing in Pennsylvania, see https://namimainlinepa.org/housing-options-for-people-living-with-mental-illness/. You should be aware that, unfortunately, housing for low income individuals with mental illness is in very short supply and waiting lists are often a year or longer, so it is helpful to apply as early as possible.  For more information, see ​​https://namimainlinepa.org/suggestions-for-family-members-who-have-a-loved-one-living-at-home-while-on-a-long-waiting-list-for-housing/.

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6. How can an adult with mental illness find social opportunities or a support group?

During the COVID-19 Pandemic when in person social opportunities are limited, social connection can be maintained by:

  • online support groups, wellness chats, discussion groups and chat rooms
  • virtual one-on-one socializing with volunteers or mental health workers
  • warm lines

Information about online support groups and chat rooms is available at:

NAMI affiliates can provide additional information about local social opportunities. (To find an affiliate near you, use Find Your Local NAMI available at https://www.nami.org/get-involved/join.)

For information about warm lines in the Philadelphia area, see https://namimainlinepa.org/info-resources/intro-to-services/. For general information about warm lines, see https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-coping-covid-19-pandemic/#WarmlinesGenInfo.  For information about one-on-one socialization with volunteers, contact Compeer of Suburban Philadelphia at https://compeerfriends.org/.

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7. How can a family member of someone with mental illness find information, resources, help and/or support?

A broad range of helpful advice for family members is available at:

The Family-to-Family Education Program provides the opportunity to learn about the major mental illnesses from trained family members.  This free 12-week program discusses the treatment of these illnesses and teaches the knowledge and skills that family members need to cope more effectively. The Basics education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illness is a free course which is available both in person and online through NAMI Basics OnDemand.  For additional information, visit:

NAMI affiliates provide information, support, and referrals to relevant resources in response to individual inquiries, and most also offer support groups for family members.  To find an affiliate near you, go to https://www.nami.org/get-involved/join.

For information on family member support groups in the Philadelphia area, review the listings at https://namimainlinepa.org/support-groups-by-county-in-southeastern-pennsylvania/.  For other information, contact info@NAMIMainLinePA.org or call one of the Help Lines in https://namimainlinepa.org/info-resources/intro-to-services/

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8. What can I do if my loved one with mental illness refuses treatment?

Many individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or some other types of mental illness suffer from anosognosia (the inability to perceive their illness and need for treatment). One approach that is often effective is LEAP, which stands for:

  • Listen: understand what the other person is trying to convey; reflect back what you have heard, without your opinions and ideas; listen for common ground
  • Empathize: empathize with how they feel about their symptoms and what has happened to them, without necessarily agreeing with everything they say
  • Agree: find areas of agreement, including goals you both want, e.g. to stay out of the hospital
  • Partner: collaborate to work toward agreed upon goals

For more information about LEAP, see the following resources:

In some circumstances, when an individual is involved in a serious and potentially life-threatening psychiatric emergency or severe behavioral health crisis and is unwilling or unable to consent to treatment, state law authorizes court-ordered inpatient or outpatient mental health treatment without the individual’s consent. For inpatient treatment, this process is known as involuntary commitment or civil commitment, and for outpatient treatment, the term assisted outpatient treatment is often used.  Criteria and procedures vary in different jurisdictions.  For more information on the involuntary commitment process see:

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9. What can I do if my loved one with mental illness has been arrested or is at risk of being arrested?

Suggestions for preventing arrest, information on criminal justice system procedures, advice relating to individuals with mental illness, and information about specific resources for people in the Philadelphia area are available at https://namimainlinepa.org/info-resources/criminal-justice-resources/

Advice on coping with, preparing for, and preventing a crisis is provided at https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-for-coping-with-preparing-for-and-preventing-a-crisis/.

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This FAQ provides general information and specific resources for people in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

For additional information, e-mail us at info@NAMIMainLinePA.org or contact your local NAMI affiliate (use Find Your Local NAMI available at http://www.NAMI.org/get-involved/join).

This page was last updated in August 2020.

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