Emergency department mental health presentations before and during the COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia

Milan Dragovic, Viki Pascu, Tammy Hall, Jesse Ingram, Flavie Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to high levels of psychological distress in the community. This study aimed to examine whether emergency departments (EDs) also recorded a rise in mental health presentations. Method: Changes in the number, and type, of mental health presentations to Western Australia EDs were examined between January and May 2020, and compared to 2019. Results: Data showed an unexpected decrease in the number of mental health presentations, compared to 2019, which was temporally coincident with the rise in local COVID-19 cases. Presentations for anxiety and panic symptoms, and social and behavioural issues, increased by 11.1% and 6.5%, respectively, but suicidal and self-harm behaviours decreased by 26%. Conclusion: A rise in local COVID-19 cases was associated with a decrease in mental health presentations to EDs. This has important implications for the planning and provision of healthcare services in the current pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-631
Number of pages5
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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