An inevitable response? A lived experienced perspective on emergency responses to mental health crises [2020]

Accessible summary

What is known?

  • Mental health conditions are common, with recent estimates that around one in six people are diagnosed with anxiety or depression in any given year.
  • People who experience a mental health condition not only require support from health and social care services but, at times, require an emergency response from the front‐line services.

What this adds?

  • In this narrative, I explore the various emergency pathways I experienced when in psychiatric distress;
  • I detail the potential impact of these responses and whether there are opportunities to develop a more compassionate response.

Implications for mental health nursing?

  • Police intervention can escalate situations and intensify levels of distress resulting in unintended consequences including increasing public stigma and the criminalization of mental illness.
  • My experience suggests that often the response to psychiatric pain is different to when we are experiencing physical pain. This suggests the need for a different response.

Abstracts

Mental health conditions are common and around one in six people are diagnosed with a mental health condition. Such prevalence not only require support from health and social care services, at times it require an emergency response from front line services. The police are increasingly involved in responding to crisis and transporting people to emergency departments rather than paramedics. Such police intervention can escalate situations and intensify levels of distress resulting in unintended consequences including increasing public stigma and the criminalization of mental illness. My experience suggests that often the response to psychiatric pain is different to when we are experiencing physical pain. In this narrative I explore the various emergency pathways I experienced when in psychiatric distress including experiences with law enforcement services, emergency departments and psychiatric services. The potential impact of the responses and whether there are opportunities to develop better, more compassionate response.

Christopher John White
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 01 April 2020
DOI
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