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The Women’s and Children’s Health Network acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of Country throughout South Australia. We acknowledge and respect their ongoing and deep spiritual connection and relationship to land, air, sea, waters, community and country. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Emergency Mental Health Services – Referrals

The Emergency Mental Health Service is led by specialist nurses and supported by Psychiatry, as part of CAMHS. Wherever possible, we encourage a referrer to contact the Emergency Mental Health Team prior to sending the referral.

Services available

The Emergency Mental Health Service (EMH) provides emergency mental health assessment and intervention to clients in the Emergency Department (ED) at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

It also provides emergency assessment to young people who are admitted to medical wards following intentional overdose or intoxication, where mental health issues are present.

The service provides assessment to women who present to the women’s assessment service outside of normal business hours. For women presenting within business hours, they are supported by the Peri Natal and Infant Mental Health Service.

Specialist mental health advice and intervention is provided in the hospital in response to code black incidents in the hospital.

Our specialist team works with families and carers when the client is being assessed, in addition to facilitating appropriate management and follow up of clients according to the level of intervention they need.

The EMHS provides a phone liaison service for health professionals who are consulting with young people who require emergency mental health assessment. This includes providing phone assessment and advice for country hospitals needing advice about assessment and referral after business hours (during business hours this is provided by CAMHS Connect).

Accessing the service

We assess and support any young person, up to age of 18 years, who has mental health issues requiring immediate assessment and that meet CAMHS specialist criteria including:

  • Acute or sever mental health disorder
  • Significant distress and/or risk
  • Significant impairment in functioning.

We also see women who attend the women’s assessment service outside of normal business hours.

Referring clients

As this service is an emergency service, referral will be for clients with urgent mental health issues than cannot wait until normal working hours. It is expected that the service providers most likely to utilise this service will include:

  • Police
  • Ambulance
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
  • General Practitioners
  • Community health and welfare services

Wherever possible, we encourage a referrer to contact the Emergency Mental Health Team prior to sending the referral. That way, the best interests of the young person and family can be considered and the most appropriate follow up sought.

Our principles of care

The EMHS considers a number of factors when supporting mental health clients including the least restrictive and most appropriate care available

This means that treatment will be sought as close to the client’s home as possible, to ensure family and community support networks are maintained. The service will look to increase support from existing providers (where necessary) to assist as an alternative to hospital presentation. This increased support may be offered by a community team who can provide regular follow up for a period of time or the involvement of an intermediate level of care through a service like the Urgent Mental Health Care Centre.

Young people who do not meet specialist mental health criteria, will be linked with the most suitable service to meet their individual needs. This may involve linking young people with drug and alcohol supports, NDIS supports or making suggestions of psychiatry support options. Please note that psychiatry assessments do not routinely occur through the emergency mental health service.


Contact the Emergency Mental Health team on 8161 7000 and ask the switchboard operator to page the Emergency Mental Health Nurse.

The full range of CAMHS services can be viewed on the CAMHS webpage.

Further information