What’s It Like to Work In a Psychiatric Emergency Department?

Sydnee Logan
By Sydnee Logan  | 
What’s It Like to Work In a Psychiatric Emergency Department?

“Some hospitals have an area set up for psychiatric patients, but a dedicated psychiatric emergency department isn’t common.”

Emma Mangano, DNP, PMHNP

“Psychiatric cases make up about 1 in 8 emergency department visits and the numbers are going up.” Dr. Mangano is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a nurse practitioner in the Psychiatric Emergency Services Area at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“It’s usually a pretty low key environment, it’s actually not chaotic,” she says. Staffed by trained psychiatric professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, security, social workers, techs and more, the goal here isn’t to diagnose, but to assess risk for suicide, danger to self or to others, and refer patients to services. From this floor, patients may be admitted, go home, or somewhere else.

The number one reason people are admitted to the psychiatric emergency department is suicidal ideation. “One thing to know is that suicidal ideation doesn’t come from a single diagnosis or condition, it could be some kind of crisis, homelessness, substance use, or something else. Most come in of their own volition.”


Dr. Mangano’s advice if you’re looking to go into psychiatric nursing:

“It’s a very rewarding field. As a psychiatric health care provider, you may be the first person to talk to someone about why they are in crisis, and that can be a humbling experience.”


5 Things About Working in a Psychiatric Emergency Department, with Dr. Emma Mangano


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Sydnee Logan, MA is the Sr. Social Media and Digital Content Specialist for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She shares Hopkins Nurses with the world.

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