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Attending A&E: Tips

Crisis Helplines

Specialist Support Helplines

Attending A&E with Self-Harm or Suicidal Behaviour

We’ve put together some tips to help you through this stressful time and help you get the most benefit from your visit to A&E. 

Have a companion with you

Waiting times can be long in the Emergency Department. When you’re attending A&E, it’s helpful to have someone with you to keep you company, to provide support and to help keep you comfortable as you wait to be seen. 

  • Bring a friend or family member with you or have them meet you at the Emergency Department.
  • Your companion may be able to speak up for you – to ask questions, to make requests on your behalf – if you are not in a position to do so yourself.
  • Being with someone who cares about you at this difficult time can help you feel supported and help keep you calm, particularly if waiting times are very long.  Having a companion when attending A&E can have a calming effect in a stressful situation. 
  • Where waiting times are excessive, there can be a temptation to leave the A&E without being seen.  Research shows that those who are accompanied are more likely to stay to be seen and this improves outcomes.


Request Privacy 

The A&E can be a very busy environment.  You may have to tell your story to a number of people – the receptionist, the Triage Nurse and the clinicians. Understandably, it may be distressing for you to disclose personal and sensitive information in this way. 

  • Ask for a quiet / private / safe space for your assessment.  This may not always be possible, but it’s okay to ask.  Privacy is a reasonable request. 
  • If you don’t feel comfortable asking yourself, this is one of the benefits of having someone accompany you.  Your companion can request this on your behalf.
  • Due to COVID-19 restrictions, space limitations in A&E may make it less feasible to have a quiet room, but there are other ways that privacy can be respected. 
  • In the sometimes noisy and often busy environment of the A&E, flagging the need for sensitivity and privacy is a gentle reminder that where space is at a premium, privacy can still be respected.
  • If you’re finding it difficult to talk about the way you feel, let them know. This will help them understand and they may be able to prompt you. 


Follow-up Care 

On discharge, you should be given a clear idea of what to do next, whether this is a formal plan or recommendations, referral to talk therapy or psychiatric services, guidance on self-care or lifestyle changes or other recommendations. You can take the following steps to ensure you leave with a plan:

  • Ask for a follow-up care plan.  Again, if you don’t feel able to ask, this is where having a companion is helpful. They can ask on your behalf.
  • If there is no formalised care plan, ask what are the “next steps” for you to take on discharge from A&E. 
  • Where no follow-up care advice is available, ask (or have your companion ask) what should you do as a next step to getting well
    • Do they recommend or will they refer you Counselling – HSE or private / subsidised;
    • Will they refer you on to other mental health services within the HSE or privately?
    • Do they recommend you book an appointment with Pieta or Aware or another voluntary support service;
  • Where family members are in a carer role, family should be provided with a care plan and advice on what to do in the event of another crisis situation. If none is forthcoming, they should request this prior to discharge.
  • What should you do if you feel like this again?  Who should you contact?  What steps should you take to keep safe?

Learn more and find your nearest A&E

Crisis Helplines

Specialist Support Helplines