Over 1,500 suicides and 15,000 suicide attempts are recorded annually in Sweden. In order to handle this growing menace, Stockholm’s care services have introduced the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PAM) – an ambulance dedicated only to mental health care. It’s the first of its kind in the whole world, and essentially an emergency response therapy room that can travel at 70 miles per hour. Thank you, Sweden, for you totally removed the stigma related to mental health.
As it’s seen traveling across the city, PAM looks like the conventional ambulance. On the inside, however, comfortable seats have replaced stretchers, and the bright lights have been imparted a warmer glow.
The response team has got two mental health nurses and one paramedic. In Sweden, the police traditionally handle these serious cases. By making trained professionals available for emergency response, the quality of care provided is obviously taken a notch higher. It has also almost eradicated the stigmatization of patients suffering from psychiatric problems.
In Stockholm, PAM attends more than 130 calls per month on average. The vast majority of these calls are mostly related to suicidal risk. Presently, Stockholm is the only Swedish city to have taken such a step to stop suicide rates. However, Because of its success, other regions like Skåne, Örebro, Blekinge and Jönköping are all looking into the possibility of taking PAM’s assistance. In Gothenburg, they have already structured a scheme that takes mental health nurses to emergencies by car, again delivering the perfect kind of care for those in need, suffering from poor mental health. According to Fredrik Bengtsson, Head of Mental Health Emergency at Sabbatsberg Hospital, he says “I can’t see any reason as to why the project shouldn’t continue,” Bengtsson told VICE Sweden. “It has been considered a huge success by police, nurses, healthcare officials, as well as by the patients.”
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