Health Care

Mental Health Emergencies: When to go to the ER

A Woman Thinks Deeply with Her Hand Pressed Against Her Face

At AdventHealth Hendersonville, we treat the whole person — body, mind and spirit. It’s vital to your well-being to understand that mental health is just as important as your physical health, and that mind and body impact each other. That’s why mental health conditions almost always come with physical symptoms, too, or why people with illnesses that are considered physiological may also struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

That said, if you face a mental health crisis, don’t brush it off and see it as insignificant compared to a physical sickness or injury. Get help right away. We’re here to let you know that it’s ok to go to the ER if you’re having a mental health crisis, and it may very well be your best option!

What Types of Mental Health Conditions are Seen in the ER?

ER visits for mental health crises are on the rise. At least 6% of adult ER visits are due to mental health complaints, as well as 7% of pediatric visits.

This uptick reflects an increase in mental health conditions. Some common mental health conditions that may be seen in the ER include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

When Should You Go to the ER for Mental Health?

In a health emergency — physical or mental — the emergency room is the right place to go. If you think you or someone else might seriously hurt themselves or are having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. It may be your only option if your regular doctor or a mental health clinic is not available at the time of need.

Kristy Ellison, MSN, RN, the Director of Behavioral Health and Respiratory Care at AdventHealth Hendersonville, says, “People should go to the ER when they are experiencing a crisis or acute symptoms that they feel like they can’t manage on their own.”

In addition to self-harm and suicidal thoughts, you should go to the ER if you experience the following:

  • Aggression or physical assault
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms that have become dangerous
  • Severe insomnia
  • Severe medication side effects
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations

What to Expect When You Go to the ER

Going to the ER may seem like an overwhelming thought when you’re already overwhelmed. They can be busy with long waits. But it may be comforting to know that emergency services are available to help anywhere, anytime — for anyone.

The Emergency Department at AdventHealth Hendersonville is dedicated to providing compassionate and comprehensive care to individuals experiencing a mental health emergency.

According to Joshua Darling, MSN, RN, Director of the Emergency Department at AdventHealth Hendersonville, patients can expect to be triaged by an ED registered nurse and evaluated by an emergency room provider. The ER and behavioral health teams collaborate to provide a personalized care plan for the patient moving forward. This could be inpatient treatment or follow up outpatient care.

“Based on the evaluations a treatment plan will be developed,” Ellison explains. “This may include medications, admission to an inpatient hospital, or providing outpatient referral information. During the entirety of the patient's visit in the ER, measures will be taken to ensure the patient’s safety.”

Here’s a brief list of what's safe to bring and wear when you're visiting the ER for a mental health crisis:

  • A book or computer tablet for entertainment
  • A phone or computer charger
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Earphones and soothing music
  • Slip-on shoes

If you're hospitalized for a mental health emergency, be sure to follow up after you're released. With the help of a mental health professional, you can make a plan to ensure you continue healing, as well as a plan to help you cope if you experience another mental health emergency.

Mind Over Matter: We’re Here for You Always

AdventHealth Hendersonville is committed to providing whole-person mental health care to every patient, every time. Ellison shares, “AdventHealth Hendersonville offers comprehensive care to those in crisis by providing compassionate care, completing medical/psychiatric evaluations, and providing appropriate resources for the patient.”

Our compassionate and experienced mental health providers offer a range of inpatient and outpatient treatment options that can help reconnect you with the life you love. No matter where you are in your journey to mental health wellness, we are here to guide you, and empower you to find your spirit and your light.

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