Psychiatric Care

Wait Time Benchmarks for Psychiatric Illness

Procedure Emergency cases* Urgent cases* Scheduled cases*
Access to family practitioner
Acute or urgent mental health concerns As deemed appropriate after triage Within 24 hours Within 1 week
Access to psychiatrist after referral by family physician
First episode psychosis Within 24 hours Within 1 week Within 2 weeks
Mania Within 24 hours Within 1 week Not generally applicable
Hypomania, with previous diagnosis of mania Not generally applicable Within 2 weeks Within 4 weeks
Postpartum severe mood disorder or psychosis Within 24 hours Within 1 week Within 4 weeks
Major depression Within 24 hours Within 2 weeks Within 4 weeks
“Diagnostic and management consultation (including consultations for child and geriatric conditions not otherwise noted above)” Within 24 hours Within 2 weeks Within 4 weeks

*Priority or urgency levels are defined as follows:

  • Emergency = immediate danger to life, limb or organ;
  • Urgent = Situation that is unstable and has the potential to deteriorate quickly and result in an emergency admission;
  • Scheduled = Situation involving minimal pain, dysfunction or disability (also called “routine” or “elective”).

Time refers to calendar days between decision by the family physician to refer to a psychiatrist and the day the psychiatrist sees the patient.

Related Items

Canadian Psychiatric Association Position Paper “Wait Time Benchmarks for Patients with Serious Psychiatric Illnesses” (2006)

Canadian Psychiatric Association website