Psychiatric emergency services and their relationships with the mental health network in Brazil

Author(s): Barros RE, Tung TC, Mari JJ


Objective: To review the literature concerning the role and the inclusion of emergency psychiatric services in mental health networks.

Method: We performed a search in online databases (PubMed and SciELO) of empirical articles and reviews about emergency psychiatric services and networks of mental health services.

Results: Emergency psychiatric services are a core unit for a proper functioning of mental health networks, by both the management of emergencies itself, and the regulation of the network where it belongs. The emergency psychiatric services relate to all inpatient and outpatient services, allowing the organization of the flow of admissions and avoiding the overload of the network of mental health.The functions of emergency psychiatric services are broad and go beyond the simple referral for hospitalization, since clinical stabilization and psychosocial support can be reached in well structured emergency psychiatric services. In Brazil, these functions were expanded after the mental health reform and the burden of mental health network caused by difficulties and limitations of inpatient and outpatient services.

Conclusion: Emergency psychiatric services should be recovered and expanded; especially those located in general hospitals. It is suggested that investment in psychiatric emergencies should be a priority of the Brazilian public health policies for improving the mental health care.

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