Mental health in hospital emergency departments: Cross-sectional analysis of attendances in England 2013/2014

Simona Baracaia, David McNulty, Simon Baldwin, Jemma Mytton, Felicity Evison, Rosalind Raine, Domenico Giacco, Andrew Hutchings, Helen Barratt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To describe the population of patients who attend emergency departments (ED) in England for mental health reasons. Methods Cross-sectional observational study of 6 262 602 ED attendances at NHS (National Health Service) hospitals in England between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014. We assessed the proportion of attendances due to psychiatric conditions. We compared patient sociodemographic and attendance characteristics for mental health and non-mental health attendances using logistic regression. Results 4.2% of ED attendances were attributable to mental health conditions (median 3.2%, IQR 2.6% to 4.1%). Those attending for mental health reasons were typically younger (76.3% were aged less than 50 years), of White British ethnicity (73.2% White British), and resident in more deprived areas (59.9% from the two most deprived Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles (4 and 5)). Mental health attendances were more likely to occur â € out of hours' (68.0%) and at the weekend (31.3%). Almost two-thirds were brought in by ambulance. A third required admission, but around a half were discharged home. Conclusions This is the first national study of mental health attendances at EDs in England. We provide information for those planning and providing care, to ensure that clinical resources meet the needs of this patient group, who comprise 4.2% of attendances. In particular, we highlight the need to strengthen the availability of hospital and community care out of hours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-751
Number of pages8
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North Thames at Bart’s Health NHS Trust (NIHR CLAHRC North Thames). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Author(s) (or their employer(s)). No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • emergency care systems
  • emergency department
  • emergency departments
  • epidemiology
  • mental health
  • psychiatry
  • research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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