Psychiatric Emergencies

Main Points

  • Psychiatric emergencies are a national crisis. Millions of people are in emergency departments with psychiatric emergencies because there are severe shortages of mental health resources in the United States
  • Nearly 9 in 10 emergency physicians reported psych patients were being “held” in their emergency departments, according to a recent poll of emergency physicians.
  • Psychiatric patients often are waiting for days, “boarded” in emergency departments until psychiatric beds become available.
  • States have been reducing hospital beds for decades because of insurance pressures and to provide more care outside of institutions.
  • Psychiatric boarding can lead to violent behavior, can distract staff and create bed shortages, all of which are harmful to all emergency patients.
Psychiatric Emergencies Fact Sheet

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