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Getting 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 room
  • You don't need prior authorization
  • If admitted, call your regional contractor within 24 hours or the next business day
  • Admissions must be reported within 72 hours

Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

  • Follow your plan's rules for getting non-emergency mental health care
  • For specific details, enter your plan info above
  • You can download the Behavioral Health Care Services Fact Sheet
  • Below is a summary for a quick guide
If you Then

Are an active duty service member

You must have a referral and prior authorization for all mental health care.

Are a non-active duty TRICARE Prime beneficiary

You don't usually need a referral or prior authorization for your first 8 outpatient visits. After your eighth visit (before the ninth), you'll need prior authorization.

Use TRICARE For Life

Medicare is the primary payer for mental health care. You only need a referral or authorization from TRICARE if your Medicare benefits are exhausted.

Use any other TRICARE health plan

You never need a referral for outpatient mental health care. After your eighth visit (before the ninth), you'll need prior authorization.

Not sure if you need help?

Take a voluntary, anonymous self-assessment to see if you have symptoms that are consistent with a condition that would benefit from further treatment or evaluation.

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 7/24/2014

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Military OneSource

1-800-342-9647

Military OneSource Website


Military Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
Text to 838255
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Veterans Crisis Line


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