If you’re experiencing a severe mental health episode, the last thing you need is to be left alone in a small, brightly lit, bare cold room for potentially hours on end.
Yet this is what people who are mentally unwell are experiencing in NSW Emergency Departments on a daily basis.
This is mental health in emergency. And it's completely unacceptable.
Not all pain is physical, yet right now we have a system that prioritises physical health over mental health.
Sign our petition to call on the NSW government to:
There aren't enough beds to go around. People presenting to emergency departments with severe mental health episodes are often left waiting -- sometimes for 24 hours or more! Waiting for hours if you're experiencing an acute mental health episode is agony. We need increased funding for more beds and a mandated requirement that no one is left to wait for more than four hours to be seen.
Emergency departments must be designed so that patients who are mentally unwell can feel safe and supported. Better triage processes will also reduce wait times and get people well faster. The Black Dog Institute has developed best practice guidelines for effective crisis and follow-up care in Emergency Departments which should be immediately adopted and implemented across the board. Beyond the ED, we must stop locking people in seclusion rooms, or using harmful physical restraints.
Our doctors, psychologists and nurses are doing the best they can with the little they have. But attending to mental health emergencies is no small ask. We need more Emergency Department personnel with mental health qualifications and greater investment in mental health training for all staff. Our paramedics and other frontliners also need extra support to keep people safe. People who are mentally unwell deserve appropriate care and support when they need it the most.