Distress in A&E

A person breaks a leg. They go to A&E. What happens when a person is in severe emotional distress? They often go to the same place as if they were in physical pain, A&E. The BBC has recently reported that people attending A&E for severe emotional distress are unlikely to receive the support they need, but it’s not a lack of sympathy. Generally there aren’t enough trained staff in A&E to help people suffering emotional pain. In some A&E departments in the UK, people in emotional distress will receive the support they need in a “joined up” process that involves other support agencies. Other A&E departments appear woefully inadequate, although there is an awareness within the NHS and the Government that this must change.

People going to A&E with severe emotional distress are suffering a form of pain and deserve the support they need because emotional distress is often accompanied with physical symptoms. The emotional and the physical need to be treated in tandem.