Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ provides general information, links to helpful documents, and specific resources for people in the Philadelphia area and surrounding suburbs. For additional FAQ in video format, go to http://www.namiswpa.org/support/you-are-not-alone/ and click on NAMIpedia.

For additional information, e-mail us at info@NAMIPAMainLine.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 adolescents 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 a 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 with mental illness has been arrested or is behaving in ways which may result in arrest?

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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 for your county. 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://namipamainline.org/crisis-numbers/). If you are outside the Philadelphia area, you can call a national hotline (800-273-8255) to be referred to the closest crisis center.

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

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2. What help is available for children and adolescents 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. Multiple aspects of mental illness in children and teenagers and treatment are discussed in video format at http://www.namiswpa.org/content/index.php (click on Namipedia and then Mental Illness in Children and Teenagers).

Please visit http://namipamainline.org/support/services-for-children-and-teens for information and resources related to mental and behavioral health problems in children and adolescents and suggested online resources. There, you will also find a link to an application for NAMI PA, Main Line’s Grant Program.

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 a 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.

Community mental health services are provided by each county, including 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, 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, which can probably direct you to mental health care services provided on a sliding scale basis.

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

Information about assistance in paying for prescriptions is available at:

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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://namipamainline.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.

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

Social opportunities for people with mental illness include:

  • group social events
  • drop-in centers, which offer activities as well as a social setting
  • clubhouses, which offer structured rehabilitation programs and may require a referral
  • one-on-one socializing with volunteers or mental health workers
  • warm lines
  • and in person and online support groups, discussion groups and chat rooms

A directory of clubhouses is available at http://clubhouse-intl.org/what-we-do/international-directory/. Information about online support groups is available at https://namipamainline.org/online-and-telephone-support-groups/. 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 the social opportunities, warm lines and support groups in the Philadelphia area:

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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 six-session course which provides the fundamentals a caregiver needs for themselves, their family, and their child who is living with a mental illness. 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 offered by NAMI and other organizations in the Philadelphia area:

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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 behaving in ways which may result in arrest?

Suggestions for preventing arrest, information on criminal justice system procedures, advice relating to individuals with mental illness, and links to additional helpful documents are available here (https://namipamainline.org/info-resources/criminal-justice-resources/). This document also provides information about specific resources for people in the Philadelphia area.

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

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