Though hospitals are able to treat clients who have engaged in suicide or self-harm attempts with specific and effective treatment and care, such clients are often released from hospitals with little to no guidance on how to proceed towards a more mentally healthy road, including therapy referrals. The mental health group SANE is calling for better training and understanding of mental health resources among general practice physicians and emergency response staff, noting that these measures will likely help save scores of lives. Too often, says the group, clients who are treated in the hospital after a suicide attempt are not directed to a therapist or other mental health worker, despite the fact that a previous episode of suicidal behavior is one of the strongest indicators of high risk.
The group conducted a survey of mental health clients who had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt, and found that around thirty percent had not been referred to any sort of mental health program or treatment avenue, and about sixty percent did not receive any information about psychotherapy-based services. The survey, which involved nearly three hundred clients, also found that about eighty percent of participants did not have a crisis plan to work with should they feel similar suicidal feelings in the future.
In response to the survey and outcry, some in the general medical community have noted that motivating clients to return to see a general practice physician for care can be difficult, and that such services are “overwhelmed” by their case loads. Deferring follow-up treatment to outpatient clinics and community centers, along with making strong efforts to support and promote such options, have been suggested as viable routes for effective change.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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