Medical help is vital, and sometimes the difference between life and death. But a person’s mental health issues don’t receive the same amount of attention. Even today, many people facing mental health issues, standing on the brink of self-harm, do not get the same immediate response as a heart attack.
Mental health still faces some stigma in cities and a lot in rural areas. As a step towards reducing that stigma, and encouraging a more accepting and open-minded society, hospitals now offer psychiatric emergencies for those in dire situations caused by the mind rather than the body.
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RECOGNISING SYMPTOMS AND COURSE OF ACTION
The major challenge in a mental health-related emergency is to recognize the symptoms. Delineating episodic occurrences from underlying mental issues is an almost impossible task. People face many situations and circumstances every day, and their reactions to them are an accumulation of past experiences. Everyone’s response to the same problem is different, so it is hard to determine if their reactions are normal.
It is also the reason for finding a base or zero-point of human mental issues is difficult. Sometimes, people may react extremely because of other circumstances or deep-rooted feelings, rather than because they have an inherent psychological problem. While it is hard to identify underlying psychological issues, the following list includes a few of the symptoms and issues to look out for that require psychiatric emergency,
- Suicidal tendencies
- Increased physical violence
- Overdosing on alcohol or drugs
- Extreme reaction to stress
- Losing touch with reality
- Panic disorder
- Personality disorder
- Severe depression symptoms (loss of appetite, interest, and will to live)
- Talking without making sense
- Loss of control
These symptoms are overt and extreme, and thus it is easier to identify. They may also occur because of continuous repression of psychological problems that reach the breaking point. In any of these cases, it is advisable to contact emergency care services.
While contacting emergency services is crucial, there are a few tips that people can use to manage or identify the situation and help the person in distress,
- Know the warning signs: If a person has a record of previous mental health issues, it is essential to be aware of the warning signs of depressive, manic, or psychotic episodes. This awareness helps in the early administering of care services.
- Safety precautions: Constant care and monitoring individuals prone to or with previous psychological issues are essential. Sharp objects, drugs, or other potentially harmful items should not be within their reach. If possible, monitor their activities, and ensure they are not alone.
- Medication: If a patient is undergoing treatment already, it is vital to ensure that they take their medicines correctly in the prescribed doses, to ensure there is no repeated occurrence of an episode.
PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY SERVICES PROVIDED
Hospitals that provide emergency services for psychological health-related issues offer the following services.
- Mobile therapy or consultation—expert therapists can visit the patient’s home to assess the situation and determine the course of action.
- Emergency consult and intervention—expert therapists provide immediate consultation to help diffuse the situation and negative thought patterns.
- Ambulance services with nurses
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Residential treatment
These services help deal with patients suffering from psychological issues like OCD, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, autistic spectrum, dementia, chronic pain, etc.
The emergency care services team comprises experienced psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, licensed therapists, nurses and caretakers, who can rush to the spot immediately if needed. After contacting them, they provide the treatment or medication for the particular psychiatric emergency. They offer the following treatments:
- Interventions focussed on the individual’s specific case, using vetted psychological methods.
- Outlining and goal-setting treatment objectives
- Administering recovery-oriented services for a short or long period
- Educating groups, family, and friends on the psychological issue and support methods
While introducing psychiatric emergency care services is a great leap forward, its responsible use is crucial for its long-term success. A matter of primary importance is to recognize and acknowledge symptoms. People brush off certain occurrences and behaviors, because of lack of knowledge or because of social stigma. This disregard is more harmful than the issue itself.
Depression may occur from time to time, but if it persists, one must immediately consult a psychiatrist or therapist. The same applies to any emotional state. One should not overlook changes in behavior, extreme emotions, unexplained mood swings, recent trauma, and other such symptoms. They could signify underlying issues and consulting a trained mental health professional for confirmed diagnosis is the best course of action.