The greatest proportion of mental health-related visits to the emergency department is for anxiety, followed by substance use.
Emergency department visits for mental health are highest among the 15-24 age group.
Hospitalizations for mental health and addictions are increasing in Lambton.
Substance Use and Mental Health
Substance use can contribute to poor mental health, and the use of substances as a coping mechanism for symptoms of mental illness can hide the early indicators or exacerbate symptoms of mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Substance use disorder is a diagnosis used by medical professionals to describe problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. In this report, we include substance use as a mental health-related reason for visiting hospitals. This report considers substance use as part of the larger picture of mental health.
Substance use disorder is its own category of mental illness. However, there are strong correlations between substance use disorder and other mental illnesses. The term “concurrent disorder” is used for people with both substance use disorder and mental illness. The most common combinations include substance use coexisting with a mood disorder or an anxiety disorder. Additional resources and information are available here.
Emergency Department Visits
In 2016, there were 2873 mental health and addictions-related emergency department visits among Lambton residents. There has been an increasing trend in both Lambton and Ontario, but Lambton rates have been slightly higher or similar to the Ontario average between 2007 and 2016 (Figure 1). Looking at our 2016 emergency department visit rates relative to the other 36 health units in Ontario, Lambton ranked 19th highest. The number of emergency department visits is greatest among those 15-24 years of age; females made up about 60% of visits in this age group.
Anxiety disorders are the most common diagnosis among those visiting the emergency department for mental health problems. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of visits for anxiety has increased from 900 to 1260. There has been an increasing trend in both Lambton and Ontario and Lambton rates have been consistently above Ontario rates between 2007 and 2016 (Figure 3). The number of visits is highest among females 15-24 years of age. The visit rate among 15-19 year olds is twice as high in Lambton compared to Ontario (Figure 4).
In 2016, there were 864 mental health and addictions-related hospitalizations among Lambton residents. There has been an increasing trend in Lambton while the provincial trend has been relatively stable (Figure 5). Lambton rates have been higher than the Ontario average between 2007 and 2016 with the gap widening in the most recent years. Looking at our 2016 hospitalization rates relative to the other 36 health units in Ontario, Lambton ranked 8th highest behind predominantly northern health units.
The number of hospitalizations for mental health and addictions in Lambton is greatest among those 15-19 years of age; females made up 70% of stays in this age group in 2016. The local rate of hospital admissions for mental health is 1.8 times higher than the Ontario rate in this age group (Figure 6). Lambton youth are less likely than the Ontario average to be admitted to regular hospital beds for mental health diagnoses, but much more likely to be admitted to adult mental health designated beds. This likely reflects a limitation of hospital resources related to child and youth inpatient mental health.
After peaking among those 15-19 and then generally decreasing with age, hospitalization rates begin to increase again at 75 years (Figure 6). While we excluded specific dementia diagnoses from our analysis, some of these stays may have been dementia related, but were classified differently (e.g. delirium) or were unspecified.