NYT: Finding an alternative to the E.R. for those with mental illness

A New York Times article today takes a look at the mental health crisis in emergency rooms. 

Nationally, in 2010, more than 6.4 million emergency room visits were by patients with a primary diagnosis of either mental illness or substance abuse–28 percent higher than four years earlier. One federal estimate of the cost for treating these patients is expected to reach $38.5 billion in 2014, reports the Times.

In North Carolina, the high rate of patients entering emergency rooms for a mental health condition is reaching critical levels–nearly double the national average in 2010.

An experiment in Wake County, N.C., may offer an alternative, connecting patients with mental illness to options outside of the emergency room. A group of paramedics were trained to ask a serious of questions in the field to assess a patient’s mental condition. Patients who are identified as having a mental rather than a physical emergency are given the option to be taken to a facility equipped to provide the mental health care they made need.  

Read the story here.