Beyond the Emergency: A national study of ambulance responses to men’s mental health
Beyond the Emergency is a ground-breaking study of male mental health presentations to ambulance services.
This wide-ranging research project – facilitated by Beyond Blue, funded by Movember Foundation, and 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
Beyond the Emergency also has recommendations for improving our systems, including the continued use of coded ambulance data to inform public policy and improve service responses.
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 available data seems to significantly underestimate the impact self-harm has on men in Australia.
Coded ambulance data (in six Australian jurisdictions) showed rates almost three times higher than hospitalisation data.
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 attendances 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 magnitude 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 adequate training in mental health, and many commented on a 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 empathic 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.
The Beyond the Emergency report was funded with donations from the Movember Foundation.