• Crisis assessment;
  • mental health triage;
  • psychiatric emergency;
  • telephone triage

PURPOSE:  The study aims to identify and articulate how mental health telephone triage (MHTT) clinicians manage psychiatric crisis and emergency via the telephone.

DESIGN AND METHODS:  An observational design was employed in the study. Wireless headsets were used to observe 197 occasions of MHTT.

FINDINGS:  Clinicians use a range of practical strategies, therapeutic skills, and psychosocial interventions to manage psychiatric crises and emergencies via the telephone.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:  The evidence base for managing psychiatric crisis/emergency in MHTT is minimal. These findings contribute to the MHTT knowledge base and provide evidence-based strategies for high-quality emergency mental health care.