Emergency & Hospital Care

In the event of immediate risk of harm to self or others, please call 9-1-1.

For emotional support or assistance, call the Vancouver Island 24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.

For free health advice, 24/7, call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1.

Emergency Departments

Specialized mental health and substance use services are available at select hospitals across the Island Health region. These services are for patients arriving with acute and critical psychiatric disorders.


Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Services

Acute psychiatric hospitalization provides short-term assessment and treatment services to adults and seniors experiencing severe mental illness, eating disorders, head injuries, mental handicaps or age-related behaviour changes.

Upon admission, inpatient services explore appropriate community supports and make necessary referrals to provide patients with appropriate follow up.

Services provided:

  • Stabilization of acutely ill patients
  • Assessment by team of health care providers which may include a psychiatrist, social worker, nurse, occupational therapist or recreation therapist
  • Personalized care plans and treatment
  • Follow-up and connection with community-based resources as required

Communities with acute inpatient psychiatric services: 

No referral needed. Go to your nearest hospital if you are in crisis, at risk or in severe distress.

Addiction Medicine Consult Service

The Addiction Medicine Consult Service (AMCS) supports physicians and care teams by providing consultation for any patient on an inpatient unit with known or suspected substance use disorder and/or who are experiencing harm due to their substance use. The purpose is to strengthen a patient’s assessment, treatment and discharge plan when substance use may interfere with patient care.  

Services provided

  • Management of difficult withdrawal symptoms
  • Substance use treatment initiation during hospitalization
  • Connection to community-based treatment resources for discharge Individualized care and treatment planning
  • Advocacy for the patient to remain in acute care for the duration of treatment
  • Referrals to treatment, case management, community programs and opioid agonist therapy

Participating locations 

South Island

Centre Island

North Island

How to access AMCS

Referral to AMCS is required from the individual’s in-hospital care team. 

Psychiatric Emergency Services

Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) are specialized care units within hospital emergency departments that provide support for individuals aged 17 and over who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis related to mental health and/or substance use. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the emergency departments listed below. For support for those aged 16 and under, visit Children & Youth Services


PES are available in these hospital emergency departments:

Services provided

  • Specialized assessment, crisis management and initiation of treatment
  • Short-term crisis intervention and stabilization
  • Symptom management and recovery planning
  • Referral to the most appropriate level of care
  • Safety and discharge planning

How to access PES

  • Visit your local emergency department. If you live in Nanaimo or Victoria, PES services are in the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital or the Royal Jubilee Hospital. 
  • A mental health nurse will lead an assessment, followed by an evaluation from an emergency room physician. 
  • The physician, with input from the patient and care team, will determine the most appropriate level of care for the patient.  

General Information on Emergency & Hospital Care

Referral Required?
Not required

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