Improving Mental Health Access from the ER

For years, community and inpatient resources for patients with mental health issues have been declining, despite ever growing needs. The noisy, hectic emergency department can be an upsetting and stressful place, especially for individuals in a mental health crisis, who have nowhere else to go for care.

Emergency physicians have established innovative solutions to help facilitate treatment for these patients, so they can get the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting. Some of these programs include regional emergency psychiatric units, bed availability tracking and management tools, transfer protocols, improved transportation services, and the use of telepsychiatry, to name a few.

But every community is different and has its own needs, and a program that works in one community may not another.

For that reason, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is encouraging Congress to enact the “Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act,” which would provide critical funding to help communities implement and expand the programs that work best for them.

H.R. 2519, the “Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act,” which would:

  • Expedite transition to post-emergency care through expanded coordination with regional service providers, assessment, peer navigators, bed availability tracking and management, transfer protocol development, networking infrastructure development, and transportation services;
  • Increase the supply of inpatient psychiatric beds and alternative care settings such as regional emergency psychiatric units; and,
  • Expand approaches to providing psychiatric care in the emergency department, including telepsychiatry support and other remote psychiatric consultations, peak period crisis clinics, or creating dedicated psychiatric emergency service units.

More connected, collaborative care improves treatment options, avoids delay, and better supports patients in their recovery.

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