Urgent psychiatric care is a currently underdeveloped but fairly new concept within healthcare, as there are many limited resources for this type of service. Urgent psychiatric care, in short, aims to help patients with mental health illnesses by placing mental health services within an urgent care setting. Urgent care groups that offer mental illness treatments usually encompass walk-in visits with social workers and psychiatrists, able to help patients through a mental health crisis. Some researchers have looked into the prevalence of these urgent psychiatric care centers and how their services impact the healthcare industry.
The Steady Rise of Urgent Psychiatric Care Centers
Normally, the rapid deterioration of those with mental illnesses would require hospitalization and ambulatory psychiatric assessment. Still, the delivery of these emergency services often neglects many of the overarching issues of mental health care, including access to services and developing long-term treatment plans for those with conditions such as schizophrenia and depression. Urgent psychiatric services aim to provide rapid access to those assessments and provide short-term treatments, all within an outpatient setting. Urgent care centers that offer mental health services play the intermediary role between community-based services with social workers and psychiatrists and inpatient hospitalization and provide dual roles for preventing the escalations of a mental crisis.
Studies looking into the development of urgent psychiatric services, conducted under The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, provide and review a growing body of literature that describes the interventions and services for psychiatric patients. These care models found over 1400 records of these forms of services, exploring 16 articles describing ten urgent psychiatric programs located in hospitals and throughout Canada. The study found that:
- Hospital-based programs often accepted patients with ED referrals, which discharged from inpatient psychiatry without psychiatric follow-up, showing gaps within the mental healthcare system.
- Urgent psychiatric care services were located within the hospital outpatient services, and the programs were staffed by professionals from several disciplines, turning these services into a multidisciplinary approach.
- Their response time ranged from 7 days with a scheduled appointment to 12 days, with only one program offering walk-in services.
- Many of these services kept within the formal model of assessment, using single visits for assessment and referral, but expanded upon ED services with safety planning and strengthening support systems within the community
- All programs expressed care continuity as its core concept, aiming to improve the patterns of health services and reported improvements in clinical outcomes.
Through this analysis, the study observed a wide-spread absence of urgent psychiatric care and suggested that urgent psychiatric care services require a firm foundation to guide sustainability overtime.
Why Urgent Psychiatric Services Are Needed
Urgent psychiatric services are highly needed to provide more multidisciplinary approaches to mental health care. These services can help improve emergency and immediate care services to help lower rates of mental health crisis and high-risk patients. While these urgent psychiatric services are currently limited, these services can help establish a new level of care that’s needed for mental health patients who have limited access.