Only 24/7 mental health care will halt crisis in emergency departments
This week the Irish Independent revealed a series of incidents where people with serious mental health conditions were left waiting for appropriate care in one of the country's busiest emergency departments (ED) in Beaumont Hospital.
The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, by their very nature, crises often occur out of office hours. This is also true of mental health crises. Secondly, the failure of the HSE to deliver 24/7 mental health support services means that people with mental health crises still end up going to the EDs of our public hospital for help. These may be people who are having such a crisis for the first time, or people who are regular users of mental health services.
In the last two weeks, one patient self-harmed in front of other patients waiting for care in Beaumont ED. A psychiatric patient tried to stab a healthcare assistant, while another was left without medication. And gardaí were called to find a patient who had left the ED without treatment.