In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)


We have five adult mental health inpatient units across Canberra Hospital, North Canberra Hospital and University of Canberra Hospital (UCH), which provide a safe and supportive environment if you are receiving care for a severe mental illness or disorder.

Additionally, we have three units that provide 24-hour treatment and care for adults with complex and enduring mental health needs, away from Canberra Hospital campus.

About this service

Adult Mental Health Unit (AMHU)

The Adult Mental Health Unit is a 40-bed inpatient mental health unit. Here, we provide both high dependency and low dependency care for people with acute mental health issues in a purpose-built facility designed to support your recovery.

Mental Health Short Stay Unit (MHSSU)

The Mental Health Short Stay Unit is a six-bed inpatient unit located within the Emergency Department footprint at Canberra Hospital. Here, we provide short-term care for people who need extended assessment or crisis intervention.

12B Low Dependency Unit (LDU)

Ward 12b is a ten-bed low dependency inpatient unit. Here, we provide low dependency care for people with acute mental health issues in a purpose-built facility designed to support your recovery.

Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit (AMHRU)

The Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit is a 20-bed specialist mental health rehabilitation unit located at the University of Canberra Hospital (UCH). Here, we provide care and support for people with a primary diagnosis of mental illness, who would benefit from an intensive rehabilitation program.

North Canberra Hospital Acacia Adult Mental Health Unit and Banksia Older Persons Mental Health Unit

Acacia and Banksia offer assessment and treatment for a range of mental health issues on a short term basis. These include: anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsion, panic attacks, psychiatric disorders, and substance issues with mental illness medications. Admissions must be able to be safely managed in an open environment.

Dhulwa Mental Health Unit (DMHU)

The Dhulwa Mental Health Unit is a 17-bed secure mental health rehabilitation unit located in Symonston. Here, we offer a safe and structured environment for people who cannot be safely cared for in other environments or in another inpatient unit.

Gawanggal Mental Health Unit (GMHU)

The Gawanggal Mental Health Unit is a 10-bed community rehabilitation and reintegration unit located next to Calvary Hospital Bruce. This unit supports you to transition back into the community setting from inpatient mental health care. At this facility we provide you with ongoing medium-term treatment in a safe inpatient environment where you can develop the skills of daily living.

All our units have access to a variety of health care professionals including Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Mental Health Nurses, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Exercise Physiologist, Aboriginal Liaison Officers, Creative Art Therapists, Allied Health Assistants and peer workers. We work together to support your care and recovery.

Who we care for

We care for a range of individuals who may be experiencing the following:

  • Needing care for a mental illness or disorder
  • Severe and sudden deterioration of their mental health
  • Complex mental health needs such as risky behaviour and/or involvement with the criminal justice system
  • Require specialist assistance and extra support to achieve their rehabilitation goals.

Generally, people 18 and over receive care in our units. However, people between the ages of 12 and 18 may be admitted to the unit on a case-by-case basis if it is assessed as the most appropriate place for treatment and the treating consultant psychiatrist approves.

How to access this service

If a situation is dangerous or life threatening for you or anyone else always call emergency services first by dialling 000.

You may be admitted to the Adult Mental Health Unit, Mental Health Short Stay Unit or Ward 12b if you present to the Emergency Department and are experiencing a mental health crisis.

You can come to the Emergency Department yourself, have a friend or family member bring you or call Emergency Services (such as police or ambulance) for help. Mental health professionals in the Emergency Department will assess you and determine if you need to be admitted.

Admission to the units may be voluntary or involuntary dependent on the level of illness you are experiencing. Your Community Recovery Service team may also be able to arrange a direct admission from the community without the need to present to the Emergency Department through the Territory Wide Patient Access Coordinator.

To be admitted to the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit, your mental health case manager or GP can make a referral on your behalf and can help you with the assessment process. You may also be transferred here from another inpatient unit.

Access to the Gawanggal Mental Health Unit or Dhulwa Mental Health Unit is by referral only from a mental health professional and is approved based on an admission process.

Additional assistance or advice can be provided by Access Mental Health.

What to expect

If you are admitted to any of the inpatient units, you will be met by your nurse who will tell you about the unit and show you your room. You will receive a welcome pack which includes information about your rights. Next, you will meet your Consultant Psychiatrist and treating team who will work with you on the next steps in your treatment.

If you choose, your carers and loved ones can be involved in multidisciplinary team meetings and family meetings to support your recovery

All of the inpatient units within our service provide you with an opportunity to develop your skills and interests, which is a vital part of your recovery. Activities across the units may include gardening, exercise, social activities, cultural activities, arts and music, hobbies and vocational activities.

If you are referred to the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit, you may be asked to attend an assessment. We do this to find out more about you and your recovery goals; it is an important opportunity for you to ask any questions to make sure we are the right service for you. If are found suitable for the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit, the team will work out a suitable date and arrange your admission to the facility. You may be placed on a waiting list if no places are available at the time.

We have more detailed information about what you need to know and what to expect before, during and after your stay at a mental health inpatient unit.

What to bring to your appointment

  • Medicare card
  • Any letters or correspondence from your GP
  • Health Care Card and/or concession card (if you have one)
  • Private health insurance card (if applicable/if you want to use it)
  • List of medicines you are currently taking (or the boxes), including medicines you have bought without a prescription, such as herbal supplements and vitamins

Where we’re located

Information for referrers

Referrals from health professionals for access to any of the AAMHS or SMHS facilities can be made in the first instance through the Territory Wide Mental Health Bed Access Coordinator who can be contacted through Canberra Hospital switchboard.

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In the case of a life threatening emergency, dial Triple Zero (000).

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Contact us

Switchboard Canberra Hospital
(02) 5124 0000

International callers
+61 (2) 5124 0000

Switchboard North Canberra Hospital
(02) 6201 6111

International callers
+61 (2) 6201 6111

Switchboard other hospitals and services
(02) 5124 0000

International callers
+61 (2) 5124 0000

The switchboard handles all calls to, from and within the hospital 24 hours/seven days a week