Mental Health Patients and the Emergency Room

Mental Health Patients and the Emergency Room
It happens every day and all around the country. People suffering from various mental illnesses go to the ER for treatment and are either sent home after an evaluation or sent to inpatient care at a psychiatric hospital. In case you or a loved one ever find yourself in this position, here is what you can expect:

First, there are a few ways someone can be brought into the ER for treatment. By ambulance after calling 911, the police will at times bring someone in via their cruiser (depending on the situation) or the patient can drive him/herself. Once checked-in, the patient will be taken to a room where vitals and tox screens are given. A licensed social worker will then conduct an assessment where the mental health history is evaluated as well as current symptoms, any drug or alcohol use, suicidal or homicidal ideations, self-harming behaviors, past hospitalizations or past suicide attempts.

Once the social worker has gathered the information needed for the assessment, the ER doctor will meet with the patient. Based on the social workers assessment and recommendations, the doctor will either agree to discharge the patient or admit them, based on psychiatric criteria. If the patient is discharged and sent home, typically the ER will fax discharge paperwork to the patient’s psychiatrist or therapist, should they be linked with services already. If someone does not have outside mental health services, referrals are given before the patient leaves the ER.

If criteria are met and the patient is admitted, they will be transferred to a psychiatric hospital that can accommodate. Here, they will be seen by a psychiatrist and evaluated for medication as well as likely start group therapy. A patient can stay in the hospital anywhere from 48 hours to a few weeks, depending on the severity of their symptoms. Typically, a person is discharged within a few days. Often, a patient is referred to a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) or an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) as a step down from the hospital. Statistics show that if someone starts group therapy after a hospitalization, they have a stronger chance of staying out of the hospital.

The Behavioral Wellness Group has a number of IOP’s to offer. You do not have to be recently discharged from the hospital to attend; people will often start IOP to avoid being hospitalized. IOP is a 7 week program that meets 3 times a week and is 3 hours long. If you are interested in getting more information or attending, please call 440-392-2222 option 1. Here is a list of our programs:

Erin Pawlak, MS, LPCC
Therapist and Adolescent IOP Director
The Behavioral Wellness Group