29 May 2019

Beyond the Emergency

Beyond the Emergency: A national study of ambulance responses to men's mental health
Mental Health | Where The Money Goes
2 MIN READ
The wide-ranging research project funded by the Movember Foundation and facilitated by Beyond Blue, was led by Turning Point and Monash University; in partnership with ambulance services across Australia - includes new data about: 
  • Male self-harm and suicide
  • The scale and complexity of mental health issues among men in Australia 
  • The need for more mental health training for paramedics
  • The relationship between alcohol/substance abuse and mental health issues
  • Perspectives of men affected by these issues
The full report is available here, but below is a breakdown of the key findings. 

The tip of the iceberg: male self-harm and suicide

The current data seems to greatly underestimate the impact that self-harm has on Aussie men. 

Coded ambulance data (in six Australian states) showed rates were almost three times higher than the data previously recorded from hospitals.

There were 30,197 ambulance attendances for men who had thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide between July 2015 and June 2016, yet hospitals identified 9,999 presentations in the same period. 

A large proportion of ambulance attendees were also associated with alcohol or drug intoxication. 

Of these around one in 10 involved self-harm and similar numbers of men experienced co-occurring mental health symptoms. 

MALE MENTAL HEALTH AMBULANCE ATTENDANCES

In addition to the data on self-harm and suicide, Beyond the Emergency gives deeper, in-depth figures on the magnitiude and complexity of male mental health ambulance attendances.
*Excludes attendances related to self-harm and other drug related harms, but includes anxiety, depression and psychosis 

PARAMEDIC SKILLS AND TRAINING 

Though paramedics regularly encountered mental health presentations, they did not feel well-equipped for the range and complexity of issues they faced. 

Those interviewed felt they didn't have adequte training in mental health, and many commented on the lack of mental health content in both pre-qualification and in-service education courses. 

perspectives of men affected by mental health issues

Men who accessed ambulance services for mental health issues wanted more from paramedics than simple hospital transportation. 

Paramedic interaction influenced their overall treatment experience, with respondents valuing professional, compassionate and empathetic responses, and good communication skills, such as active listening, and non-judgemental, respectful language. 

These interactions also enabled: 

  • Successful de-escalation
  • Patient-centred care 
  • Positive handover experiences to emergency department staff
​You can read the full Beyond the Emergency report here