As the patient census has risen in emergency departments (EDs)
across the United States, many EDs have seen a parallel increase in
the number of behavioral and mental health patients seeking care.
However, the overall growth in emergency medicine as a service line
is just one reason for this rise in behavioral health patient volumes.
Other factors contributing to the growth in behavioral and mental
health patients coming to EDs include an insufficiency of inpatient beds for behavioral and mental health treatment, the limits of
community-based programs supporting deinstitutionalized care, an
increased need for pediatric and adolescent psychiatric services in
the ED, and a rise in geriatric psychiatric services tied to the aging
Further, there has been a growing recognition that
psychiatric emergencies, like all medical emergencies, are frequently
too acute and high risk to be handled in subacute community settings and require hospital emergency-level interventions.