Mental health presentations to emergency departments (EDs)will be subject to all usual COVID-19 screening processes for the clinical area.

Where a person presents with both COVID-19 symptoms and mental health issues a collaborative, patient centred approach to care is key to improving patient outcomes.

Emergency department avoidance for mental health patients

To ensure the surge capacity of the EDs and to protect mental health patients from any unnecessary exposure to a COVID-19 high risk environment, all efforts are being made to divert patients from EDs where it is assessed as safe and appropriate.

The Emergency Department Mental Health Avoidance Framework provides advice and examples of alternative pathways to care for patient cohorts including:

  • patients assessed by the Community Mental Health team for mental health admission
  • low behavioural acuity patients seeking mental health support for situational crisis including risk of harm to self
  • patients detained by Police and Ambulance under the Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2000.
  • patients on a section 19 order under the Mental Health Forensic Provisions Act
  • patients seeking drug and alcohol support with low level intoxication, without need for acute medical or mental health intervention, following brief assessment
  • patients brought to emergency by staff from community managed organisations (CMOs), referred by residential aged care facilities or supported living accommodation.

The following patient cohorts are generally not suitable for ED diversion unless to a specially designed and appropriately resourced clinical area. The Emergency Department Mental Health Avoidance Framework  provides key considerations for developing pathways for these patients:

  • behaviourally disturbed patients requiring immediate assessment and containment of clinical risk, including those with acute intoxication issues
  • patients with co-occurring mental health and acute medical issues including major self-harm and overdose, requiring a collaborative approach to care.

Return to COVID‐19 Acute Severe Behavioural Disturbance Risk Formulation Framework.​

Current as at: Wednesday 20 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW