The purpose of this brief report is to present findings from ACEM’s research exploring mental health presentations in hospital emergency departments (EDs), with the hope of beginning a binational conversation about how mental illness can be better managed in the acute care context and the broader health system. Using these data, the College’s goal is to advocate for a better health system response that addresses discriminatory treatment practices and improves overall health and psychosocial outcomes for this patient group.
On Monday 4 December 2017 at 10:00 local time, the POMAB Snapshot Survey was undertaken to estimate the point-prevalence of mental health access block in Australian and New Zealand public EDs accredited for specialist training by ACEM. Data were provided by 25 hospitals in NSW, 11 hospitals in Victoria and Queensland (respectively), seven hospitals in Western Australia, five hospitals in South Australia, and five hospitals in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania (combined). For the purposes of the study, a mental health presentation was defined as one in which the primary underlying reason for the consultation is a situation that mandates review by a mental health professional during the ED stay, including self-harm and alcohol and other drug presentations.