Mental Health Assessment Unit


The entrance to the Mental Health Assessment Unit

Hospital emergency departments have traditionally not been designed to comprehensively serve the needs of mental health consumers, particularly those with acute mental health illnesses or disorders presenting with significant behavioural risk (e.g. aggression, self harm).

The Mental Health Assessment Unit at Canberra Hospital is part of an integrated psychiatric assessment service and provides a specialised mental health assessment and treatment environment at the hospital's emergency department. It ensures that mental health consumers are well cared for in a safe and supportive environment.

The Mental Health Assessment Unit opened in April 2010.

The Facility

Consumers with mental health issues including those in crisis or acutely unwell now receive assessment, treatment and support in a safe environment.

The innovative new model of care and establishment of this new facility represents a shift in how mental health assessments are completed in a hospital environment. The new service provides better care and improved medical outcomes for people with mental health problems while also reducing the level of aggressive incidents in the emergency department.

The short stay observation unit ensures a 24 hour mental health staff presence in the emergency department and provides improved services and results in reduced assessment times for mental health consumers.

It provides improved pathways to healing for mental health consumers presenting to the emergency department and ensures that people who have a mental health condition receive the best possible care and treatment in the least restrictive environment.

The unit provides a new service model developed in support of national standards for the mainstreaming of mental health services whereby mental health consumers have the same levels of access to health services as other health service consumers with acute care needs.

Following an assessment, a consumer may undergo a period of observation and further assessment, be referred to the community for appropriate follow-up or be admitted to an inpatient unit.

More information about mental health services is available from the Mental Health, Justice Health, Alcohol & Drug Services section of the ACT Health website.

Further information

For more information about this Health Infrastructure Program project email: