With suicide rates on the rise, there’s an emerging question of how people in a crisis can get the most immediate help. Mental Health ambulances have been popping up overseas, but have yet to reach the U.S.
The London Ambulance Services NHS Trust is recruiting Mental Health Practitioners to increase their 24/7 specialist-enhanced clinical assessments and to support people who have called the London Ambulance Service for Mental Health Issues. This unique role for a nurse is a full time position. The London service is looking for practitioners who can make clinical decisions, and coordinate complex situations.
The very first Mental Health Ambulance was operated in Sweden in late 2017 after it was revealed that more than 1,500 people die by suicide annually in the country. It’s called the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PAM). The team responds to over 130 calls a month in Stockholm related to suicide risk.
“Very interesting concept,’ says Paola Sandroni, MD, who is a neuroscientist at the Mayo Clinic. ‘I see it as a positive to prevent suicide, defuse situations, but I’m a bit concerned it could be seen as an alternative to psych care. That would be a major misuse and disservice.’
At the University of York in London, about 50% of ambulance emergencies were for self-harm or suicide attempts at the University in 2016, reports the BBC. Studies point to that number being higher in 2018.