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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 Mental 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 need a referral or prior authorization for your first 8 outpatient visits. (except for psychoanalysis and outpatient therapy for substance use disorder provided by a substance use disorder rehabilitation facility).

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 don't need a referral or prior authorization for your first 8 outpatient visits (except for psychoanalysis and outpatient therapy for substance use disorder provided by a substance use disorder rehabilitation facility).

After your eighth visit (before the ninth), you'll need prior authorization.

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

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.

Last Updated 3/19/2015

contact Your Contacts
Military OneSource

1-800-342-9647

Military OneSource Website


Military Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
Text to 838255
Chat Online

Veterans Crisis Line


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