Hospitals are often packed with people who are injured or ill. What should be done in cases where patients aren’t physically ill but are experiencing mental health issues? Too often, hospitals don’t have the resources to deal with these patients, and they end up being neglected or harming themselves or others. In 2020, there were about 35 mental hospital beds for every 100,000 Europeans. Around 10.8 mental hospital beds per 100,000 people were recorded on the worldwide average, with the lowest levels found in Southeast Asia’s region.
However, there are some safety measures hospitals can take to prevent these types of emergency from happening in the first place. By creating a safe and supportive environment for patients with mental health issues, hospitals can help keep everyone safe.
What is the first challenge faced by the mental health coordinator in developing an emergency management plan for a psychiatric facility?
The first challenge is to ensure that all staff members receive training in emergency procedures. It includes knowing how to evacuate the facility safely and securely and de-escalate patients who may become agitated or violent. It is not a one-day game but an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated regularly. There is a requirement for a professional who can coordinate these activities and be the point person in an emergency.
Hiring an emergency management coordinator is a wise first step in developing an emergency management plan. This coordinator can develop and implement the plan and train staff members on how to respond to a mental health emergency.
The Most Common Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues are a pressing concern in today’s world. Hospitals have several mental health patients but not as many resources to handle them. Psychological illness can result from a variety of factors, including:
- Genetics: Mental illness can run in families.
- Brain chemistry: An imbalance of chemicals in the brain can lead to mental illness.
- Environment: Exposure to traumatic events, such as abuse, can cause mental illness.
- Trauma: Experiencing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or the death of a loved one, can cause mental illness.
- Substance abuse: Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to or worsen mental illness.
How to Create a Safe Environment?
There are some ways hospitals can create a safe environment for patients with mental health issues.
Adequate Staffing Levels
What’s more critical than hospital beds when it comes to patient care, whether psychiatric or physical? It has adequate staffing levels. That’s because understaffing is one of the leading causes of errors and poor hospital patient outcomes. When there is a sparse number of staff members to care for all patients, it leads to a higher risk of errors. In addition, understaffed hospitals are more likely to experience violence. Patients who feel neglected are more likely to become agitated and lash out. That’s why hospitals must staff their mental health units adequately.
Creating a supportive environment is another critical way to prevent mental health emergencies. It means providing patients with the resources they need to cope with their illness. It includes access to therapy, medication, and other support services. It also means creating an environment that is respectful and non-judgmental. Hospital patients should feel safe and comfortable and not treated like criminals. Running programs like art therapy or pet therapy can also create a more supportive environment. Your patient must feel connected to the world to see that there is a life outside of their illness.
Training for Staff Members
There’s no point in having hundreds of staff members if they’re not adequately trained to deal with mental health patients. A proper training session conducted by a mental health professional should be mandatory for all hospital staff members. This training should cover topics such as:
- How to de-escalate a situation
- How to restrain a patient
- How to identify the warning signs of mental illness
- What to do in the event of a suicide attempt
It’s a must to train staff how to deal with stress. Working in a hospital can be stressful, and staff members must have a sound support system. They should know how to deal with their stress to prevent burnout. Allowing them to take breaks, and having a robust counseling program in place, can go a long way in preventing burnout.
Local Law Enforcement
In addition to training staff members, the mental health coordinator should also develop a system for communicating with local law enforcement and first responders. It is vital because they will be the ones who respond in the event of a mental health emergency. They need to know the layout of the hospital and the procedures that need to be followed. They should also be aware of any dangerous patients in the hospital. By developing a positive relationship with local law enforcement, you can ensure that they are prepared to handle any mental health emergency. It’s certainly better to be well-prepared than to be caught off guard.
Clear Communication Channels
Regardless of the field and concern, communication is always crucial. The same holds true for mental health emergencies in hospitals. There should be clear and concise communication channels between all staff members, from the mental health coordinator to the janitor. This way, everyone will be on the same page, and no one will face nasty surprises. All staff members should know exactly what needs to happen and who needs their assistance in an emergency. It will help ensure that the situation is under control in the most effective possible way.
A System for Tracking Patients
Unstable mental health patients often slip through the cracks. They may leave before they are ready or may not receive the follow-up care they need. It can often deteriorate their condition and, eventually, lead to a mental health emergency. That’s why hospitals must have a system for tracking mental health patients. This system should include regular check-ins with the patient and follow-up appointments. It’s also essential to have a way to contact the patient’s family or friends in an emergency. By having a system in place, you can ensure that no patient leaves the hospital without the proper care.
From depression to bipolar disorder, mental illness is a serious concern in today’s world. Hospitals must have the proper resources to deal with mental health emergencies. By following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your hospital is prepared to deal with any mental health emergency that may arise. What matters is a safer and healthier environment for both patients and staff members.
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