Mental health emergency transport: the pot-holed road to care

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Publication details

Bradbury, JF, Ireland, M & Stasa, H 2014, 'Mental health emergency transport: the pot-holed road to care', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 200, no. 6, pp. 348-351.

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Police have, historically, been the first point of contact for people experiencing a mental health crisis in the Australian community. Changes in the NSW Mental Health Act 2007 extended the powers and responsibilities for involuntary transport to paramedics and accredited mental health practitioners. The Mental Health Act also allows for police assistance to other agencies during transport of people living with mental illness if there are serious safety concerns. Involuntary intervention for people living with mental illness is based on risk-of-serious-harm criteria under the Mental Health Act, implying serious deterioration before the Act may be invoked. At the point of risk of serious harm, police involvement may be more frequently required according to the acuity of the situation. If the legal basis of non-consensual treatment under the Mental Health Act was lack of capacity, it would provide a more comprehensive legal and ethical basis for early intervention. Police contact is intensified in rural and remote regions, particularly after hours, where crisis assessments and intervention by health services are further stretched. Further reducing police involvement using strategies that increase access to consensual pathways of care for people living with mental illness, particularly for people in regional and remote area

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