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A "crisis cafe" near Dunedin Hospital has been suggested as a way to help the mentally ill and take some of the pressure off its emergency department.
Otago Mental Health Support Trust manager Grant Cooper said the cafe idea had a lot of success overseas and one just opened in Auckland.
Instead of someone going directly to the emergency department when they were in a distressed state, they could sit down for a cup of coffee and a talk to a peer support worker, he said.
That could reduce an emergency department wait, and could also help direct them to the most appropriate service.
Mr Cooper said a crisis cafe in London had reduced demand on an emergency department by 30% over six months.
Innovative ways to help the mentally ill needed to be tried, he said.
"Sometimes, I think we are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
He understood a "scoping exercise" was to be done on the idea of having peer support workers in the emergency department itself.
"There’s been a lot of talking and a lot of reviewing and we really need to have action."