Emergency & Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

Emergency Mental Health Care

What is a mental health emergency?

You have an emergency if the patient:

  • Is at immediate risk of serious harm to self or others as a result of mental disorder
  • Needs immediate continuous skilled observation at the acute level of care (based on a psychiatric evaluation)

When you have a mental health emergency:

  • Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency roomThe hospital department that provides emergency services to patients who need immediate medical attention.
  • You don't need pre-authorization
  • If admitted, call your regional contractor within 24 hours or the next business day
  • Admissions must be reported within 72 hours

Crisis Hotline

Military Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

Text to 838255

Chat Online

Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

Based on your plan, you may need a referral or pre-authorization for any outpatient mental health (except psychoanalysis) and substance use disorder (SUD) care. This includes services like therapy and counseling.  If you choose a provider outside the network, you may pay higher costs. 
For psychoanalysis or care from an institutional provider outside of a military hospital or clinic, you must get a referral for non-emergency mental health and SUD care.  

We don't want to discourage you from getting help. We want to make sure your condition doesn't negatively affect your health and ability to perform your duties.

Note: If you are an active duty service member (ADSM) seeking care in the TRICARE network, you must get a referral and pre-authorization. You don’t need a referral or pre-authorization if you seek outpatient mental health services at a military hospital or clinic.

Do you need prescription drugs for a mental health condition?

You must be under the care of a provider who can prescribe drugs and manage your dosage. Some types of mental health providers can prescribe drugs, but others can't. >>Learn more

Last Updated 5/8/2023