Contacting Mental Health Professionals During Off Hours

Contacting Mental Health Professionals During Off Hours

These days, many people are used to immediate gratification. We live in a society where we can fulfill our needs or satisfy our curiosity instantly and around the clock. We communicate with others and find the answers we need immediately so often that, at times, the lines can blur between what is socially appropriate behavior and what is not. 

When it comes to health care, patients have begun to seek out medical professionals at various times, wanting to know instantly what is wrong with them and how they can receive help. In emergency situations, this is key. You should always seek medical help right away if you or someone you know is in immediate danger. 

However, if you are having a mental health issue or crisis that is not immediate, what should you do? Do you reach out and call your mental health professional no matter the time of day or night? The answer is: it depends.

Off-Hours Contact With Your Mental Health Professional

If you are unsure of when you can contact your medical professional, feel free to simply ask. Each therapist, counselor, doctor’s office, etc., all have established times when it is appropriate to contact them and seek help. They also have instructions either on their website or office voicemail instructing patients on what to do when an emergency or crisis occurs. 

It is key for patients to work within their health care professional’s communication framework. Do they allow you to text or email with specific questions during certain off-hour timeframes? Discuss openly with your therapist or other professional the protocol of contact outside of your scheduled meetings and be sure to abide by those guidelines.  

It is important that both you and your health care professionals set boundaries and work to communicate within the appropriate timeframes. 

Who Qualifies as a Mental Health Professional?

Therapists are indeed the mental health care professionals that the majority of people are familiar with. However, there are other people that can manage or help take care of the mental health of others. 

Examples of mental health professionals include: 

  • Clinical social workers
  • Counselors (marriage, family, substance abuse)
  • Nurse practitioner or psychiatric nurse
  • Family care physicians

In addition, there are other professionals that you may receive help from during a mental health crisis. It is important when seeking help from other professionals not in the health care field to make sure they are trained and certified to offer support. Examples include:

  • Spiritual leaders, such as pastors, rabbis, priests, bishops, etc. that are trained to provide counseling
  • Social workers who can help plan and manage services to help support your mental well-being
  • Certified peer group support leaders who have experienced a substance abuse disorder and trained to help others in their recovery goals

In all cases, whether it’s with a therapist or not, be sure that you work within the appropriate communication guidelines. If one is not clearly established, do not be afraid to ask or communicate your expectations for needing their help.