People with mental health and substance use disorder challenges are using emergency department (ED) services more frequently than in prior years.
From 2006 to 2013, there has been a 52 percent increase in ED utilization by people with serious mental illness (SMI).
There are several critical factors that have contributed to the rising demand for crisis services: reliance on emergency departments and law enforcement as the de facto crisis system, high suicide rates, stigma around mental illness, inadequate access to behavioral health care, and a relentless opioid epidemic.
As part of our ongoing, in-depth look at that those factors, today Beacon Lens will focus on suicide.
The need for behavioral health crisis services in the United States has never been stronger.
Traumatic national catastrophes, such as mass shootings, are on the rise. The opioid epidemic shows no signs of abating. The stigma around accessing mental health services persists. Suicide rates are high and rising. Access to mental health services remains elusive for many Americans.
The phone rings, early on a Sunday morning. I’m excited, as it is a childhood friend whom I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with; only she asks me to let my parents know that her brother committed suicide the night before.
No words can describe the pain heard and felt. Of course, as outsiders, as onlookers, our first unspoken questions are “How did this happen?” “How did he do it?”
Everyone knows what a first aid kit is. We’ve all seen them. We’ve all used them. Convenient boxes containing the basic tools needed to treat medical emergencies: bandages and antibiotic ointments for cuts, cold compresses for burns, aspirin for headaches and inflammation.
But what if someone were to have a psychiatric emergency? Would others even know it was happening? Would anyone know what to do? Are there ‘tools’ to help someone in psychiatric distress?
A decade has passed, but images of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction remain forever etched in our nation’s collective psyche, serving as a reminder of the importance of crisis preparedness and rapid response. However, the adage of history repeating itself certainly applies here; although far from immune to the devastation of natural and manmade disasters, we return to complacency. It can’t happen here, not in my community or my place of work. As we reflect on the nearly 2,000 people killed and more than a million displaced from Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, there are lessons learned that employers should consider related to their crisis management strategy. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) like Beacon’s have a responsibility to reinforce those lessons. Develop a…