Of the several million emergency calls that were made in the UK between 2008 and 2009, a significant portion involved mental health difficulties. While ambulance professionals and other caregivers are often able to identify such difficulties in clients, they are not typically endowed with the training or understanding to provide meaningful services, and simply refer people experiencing mental health crises to emergency room and general practice physicians. Many workers note having observed that on the whole, those clients seeking help for mental health issues are forced to wait longer to receive treatment, and if that if they do remain within emergency room waiting areas until they’re seen, they are less satisfied with the treatment given.
In effect, this creates a “revolving door” for mental health clients who, despite earnestly requesting professional care, may not be given the attention or tools needed to aid in recovery or find a specialist who can. Such are the issues outlined in a recent report tendered by the Ambulance Service Network and the Mental Health Network, published with the NHS Confederation. The report, a joint effort contributed to by both agencies, suggests that collaboration between emergency service responders and mental health specialists, including better education about mental health concerns for ambulance personnel, may greatly improve the quality of care received by those in need. Through curtailing the consistent use of emergency services due to a lack of adequate treatment, the measure may also help the UK cut health care costs.
The frustration of being unable to secure meaningful mental health care, especially when the often-difficult impasse of reaching out for help is conquered, is an unfortunate experience to which many in the UK can relate. With this collaboration, however, such experiences may be phased out.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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