Stockholm’s care services launch the world’s first ambulance dedicated solely to mental health services
We have seen other health-related innovations in Sweden recently, such as a newborn resuscitation kit designed to guide caregivers, and the invention of bacteria-fighting plastics intended to stop infections from spreading. Now, Sweden has moved on to tackle the mental health crisis with the introduction of specialist ambulances to be used for mental health emergencies.
The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PAM) has been trialled in Stockholm, and consists of an ambulance which at first appears normal, but in fact is specially equipped to tackle mental health emergencies. The ambulance travels fast, and inside there are comfortable seats instead of stretchers, warmer glowing lights rather than the traditional bright ones. The response team includes two mental health nurses and one paramedic, the presence of trained professionals marks a significant improvement from the previous system where police attended to such crises. In Stockholm PAM responds to an average of over 130 calls per month, most of which are related to suicide risk. The scheme is intended to tackle the large number of suicides and suicide attempts reported annually in Sweden, over 1,500 and 15,000 respectively. This unique scheme aims to destigmatize mental health and provide patients with expert care, the scheme is potentially going to expand to other regions in Sweden.
With the current mental health crisis, it is essential that innovative ideas are implicated to tackle the issue in new and more effective ways. How else might innovation help those suffering from mental health problems? Might we see these Swedish ambulances become a worldwide phenomenon, what other unique schemes could be developed?