Since psychiatric crisis treatment is crucial in mental health care, this study aimed to characterize the psychiatric crisis in the hospital emergency services of Natal/RN. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 professionals employed in four local public hospitals. The results revealed the absence of adequate beds for psychiatric conditions, scarcity of psychiatric drugs, lack of clarity regarding diagnostic criteria, treatment based on chemical restraint and inpatient care as a priority strategy. Furthermore, there is fragmentation of the work processes with physician centrality in the management of crisis, disarticulation between hospitals and other services of the psychosocial care network and systematic referrals to psychiatric hospital. We conclude that the configuration of the local hospital network does not present satisfactory responsiveness to psychiatric crisis situations and its clinical and institutional weaknesses reflect the process of psychiatric reform in the region.
mental health; crisis intervention; general hospital