Mental Health and Emergency Detentions in Hospitals

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. One aspect of mental health that often goes unaddressed is emergency detentions in hospitals. Emergency detentions, also known as involuntary hospitalizations or EDOs, occur when someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others due to a mental health condition.


One issue with emergency detentions is that they can be overused, with some hospitals relying on them as a first resort rather than a last resort. Regularly, hospitals become overwhelmed with emergency detentions, which result in staffing and housing issues. I have personally seen numbers as high as 25 EDOs in my hospital at one time, which severely taxed my security staff with one-to-one observations. This causes a cascading effect, and other officers must leave their post to assist. It is crucial to explore alternatives to emergency detentions, such as crisis intervention teams, that can provide immediate support and help prevent crises from escalating.


While emergency detentions can be a necessary tool for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in crisis, they must be approached judiciously, and once other methods of treatment and intervention have been exhausted.