Exclusive: Two people turn up to A&E every hour in mental health crisis

I could see blood on my hands but there was nothing there, and I don’t really remember from that point on to being in A&E.

Thomas Dunning

Have you or someone you know ever experienced a mental health crisis?

It can be difficult to know what to do, who to call or where to go to, especially if it happens outside of the normal 9-5 working hours.

The NHS recommends a person going through such a crisis to contact the NHS 111 number, book an emergency appointment with your GP, ring your local Crisis Line, or go to A&E.

It is that last option of visiting an emergency department which we have been investigating. At present, not every A&E in the the UK has staff trained in mental health.

Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at mental health charity Mind, Vicki Nash, told ITV News Central that the mental health system is in ‘crisis’ and lives are being ‘put at risk’ as a result.

We have been looking into how big a problem this is and how our hospitals are coping.

A Freedom of Information request was put into all 22 hospital trusts in the Midlands which have an A&E department asking - ‘How many people had turned up to their emergency department with a mental health problem between 2013 and 2016?’

Some said they did not record that kind of data, but 15 did get back to us with some interesting findings.

The results showed that, in the last three years, 63,782 people had turned up to an emergency department across the Midlands in a mental health crisis. On average, that works out at around two people every hour.

63,782

Number of people turning up to A&E in mental health crisis over past three years.

2

Number of people arriving at A&E every hour.

The figures also showed that people are turning up to hospital with a variety of mental health problems. The conditions ranged from anxiety attacks, suicide attempts to severe stress.

Thomas Dunning, from Lincoln, ended up in A&E twice in one night after experiencing a psychosis. The 25-year-old has struggled with his mental health ever since his brother died three years ago.

He has recently been diagnosed with borderline personality and anxiety disorder. A few months ago, his health deteriorated, and his girlfriend found him after he had tried to kill himself.

A Department of Health spokesperson said:

We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few years, but we must accelerate progress even further. We have increased mental health funding to £11.7billion last year.

Department of Health spokesperson

Click here for advice on what to do in a mental health crisis and more coverage of mental health stories by ITV News Central.