Increasing confidence of emergency department staff in responding to mental health issues: An educational initiative

Cynthia M Stuhlmiller, Barry Tolchard, Lyndall J Thomas, Charlotte F de Crespigny, Diane King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports on one major finding of an educational initiative aimed at improving the care of persons presenting to emergency departments (EDs) with mental health issues. This goal, to improve care, was based on the premise that enhanced knowledge and skills of ED staff in mental health, including drug and alcohol issues, would result in increased confidence and competence of staff. The outcome of this would be that they could provide more effective and efficient service and thus better facilitate triage of persons with these problems.

To increase the confidence of staff in working with increasing numbers of mental health presentations in EDs.

Pre and post Emergency Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs (EMHAD) course questionnaires assessed self-ratings of clinical confidence in working with people with mental health issues. Follow-up interviews assessed if new found confidence in mental health had been integrated into daily ED practice.

Self ratings of clinical confidence, including knowledge and skills, showed a significant improvement on all questions following the course. Responses to the follow-up interviews suggest that participants in the course had retained and integrated information into practice. This was especially evident in their ability to talk to people about mental health problems and to triage more appropriately.

Since attending the course staff feel more confident and competent to deal with mental health, including alcohol and other drug presentations, in the emergency department.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalAustralasian Emergency Nursing Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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