Young people in mental health distress need better alternatives to emergency departments, advocates say

A story posted by The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) discusses a new report — from Suicide Prevention Australia — that underscores the inadequacies of hospital emergency departments in helping young people in crisis and recommends alternatives, “including Safe Havens — a model being trialled in NSW (New South Wales).

“Safe Havens typically operate as a drop-in service, with no bookings or referrals required.

“The facilities offer a non-clinical setting for people in suicidal mental health crisis to get free support from a peer worker with lived experience of suicide.

“The model is based on one developed in the United Kingdom, which led to a reduction in mental health hospital admissions.

“With long wait times impacting the state’s hospitals, advocates argue Safe Havens can also help divert people away from emergency departments and in turn, reduce overcrowding.

“Emergency psychiatrist Jacqueline Huber said while Safe Havens were a step in the right direction, they had limited hours of operation.

“‘[Safe Havens] are designed to be warm, welcoming, to give people a sense of community,’ Dr Huber said.

“‘The problem is they’re not available all the time. They need to be available every day, after hours and on weekends if they’re going to give the most appropriate care’”

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