Presenting to the ED with a mental health concern can be emotionally very challenging.
The people we talked to described sometimes feeling embarrassed or ashamed when they attend the ED, or simply not wanting to be there. Some people identified how small gestures by staff like offering food, drink or an extra blanket and asking what they need have helped them to feel welcome within the emergency department. Others described how they have felt supported when staff have invited them to describe in their own words what they are experiencing. It can help a person to feel safe when staff find a way to talk to them about what they are experiencing and ask them how they can be supported.
People also said they sometimes find it easier to connect with staff when they have been asked questions about their lives, their interests and the things they enjoy doing in their spare time. They explain how being treated as a person with an identity beyond the immediate mental health concern can provide a distraction from the distress they are experiencing and help them to trust staff. When people feel safe and comfortable, they can feel more confident to participate in broader conversations about what they are experiencing and how they may be supported. It can make a big difference to a person’s experience of mental healthcare in the emergency department (ED) when staff use good interpersonal skills and try to foster trust and rapport.
- Showing an interest in a person’s life beyond the immediate mental health concern can help to establish trust and rapport.
- Asking a person what they need and how they can be supported can help to reduce the shame and isolation they may be experiencing.
- Helping a person to feel safe and comfortable can help them to feel more confident to participate in conversations about their mental health and how they can be supported.
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Unhelpful interactions with ED staff