The Mental Health Intensive Care Unit (MHICU) is a specialist, Northern Sydney and Central Coast Local Health Districts-wide Mental Health Unit located on the Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Hospital site. It is a 12 bed unit that provides specialist, intensive, multidisciplinary care to people with high levels of clinical complexity and risk who cannot be safely and effectively managed in a standard acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit.



Inclusion Criteria

1. Exhibition of acute and high levels of clinical risk related to a mental illness/disorder.

2. An acute episode or an acute exacerbation of a mental illness/disorder.

3. The referring unit identifies continuing difficulties safely and effectively managing presenting levels of clinical risk while maintaining the patient's and/or environmental safety.

4. Detained under the NSW Mental Health Act 2007.

5. Aged 18 years or over.

6. Patient or has residential address within the catchment area of Northern Sydney or Central Coast Local Health Districts. 

Exclusion Criteria

1. Person is acutely intoxicated.

2. Primary diagnosis of dementia, developmental disability or traumatic brain injury unless there is a significant coexisting psychiatric disorder.

3. Physical frailty that endangers the patient's management in the MHICU environment.

4. Medical condition that cannot be safely managed in the MHICU.

5. Degree of aggression or behavioural disturbance that cannot be safely managed in the MHICU.


People access this service via referral from other mental health inpatient units. People are not admitted to this ward directly.

Urgent cases

If you are in the community and require urgent mental health assistance there are several options:

Ring the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511. This line is staffed by experienced clinicians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will be able to speak with a clinician who can provide recommendations about how to manage the situation or put you in contact with the appropriate mental health team.

Attend the Emergency Department at Hornsby Hospital, where there is 24 hour access to specialist mental health care and support.

If the situation is urgent or becoming dangerous ring Triple Zero (000) and request ambulance and/or police. They will be able to assist the person safely to the hospital Emergency Department to access mental health care.

Other Information

Visiting hours:

Weekdays: 4pm – 5pm and 6pm – 8pm.

Weekends and Public Holidays: 10am – 12noon, 1pm – 5pm and 6pm – 8pm.

As this is an Intensive Care Unit there may, on occasion, be reasons why visitors aren't given access to the unit during visit times. Phoning the ward prior to each visit will help to ensure that you are able to enter the unit upon your arrival.
Our staff recognise the positive effects that visits can have on patients and will aim to facilitate visits as much as possible, however please assist our staff in maintaining the safety of the unit by following staff directions and leaving the unit during meal times or on the request of staff.

Contraband: We value the safety of our patients, visitors and staff, and as such the restriction of certain items on the unit is necessary; we refer to these items as contraband. In the MHICU this applies, but is not limited to, the following: cutlery or sharp metal objects; glass items; metal cans; caffeinated drinks; plastic drink bottles; aerosols; alcohol; mains powered electrical devices; cameras; weapons; cigarettes/tobacco; lighters; matches; mobile phones or any telecommunication device; any necklaces; heavy rings; plastic bags; knives; pornographic material.

People may be searched by staff if there is reasonable suspicion that they have weapons, prohibited items, drugs or other contraband on them.

Psychiatric Intensive Care refers to care for patients compulsorily detained in secure conditions, who are in an acutely disturbed phase of a serious mental disorder. There is an associated loss of capacity for self-control, with a corresponding increase in risk, which does not enable their safe, therapeutic management and treatment in a general acute ward. Care and treatment offered must be patient-centred, multidisciplinary, intensive, comprehensive, and collaborative and have an immediacy of response to critical situations. Length of stay must be appropriate to clinical need and assessment of risk but would ordinarily not exceed eight weeks in duration. Psychiatric Intensive Care is delivered by qualified staff according to an agreed philosophy of unit operation underpinned by principles of risk assessment and management (Department of Health, UK; from PR2009_291).

Address - Allows authors to enter rich text content.  Address

Mental Health Intensive Care Unit

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital,

Palmerston Road, Hornsby NSW 2077

Postal Address:

Mental Health Intensive Care Unit,
Building 51, Lowe Road,
Hornsby Hospital, Hornsby NSW 2077

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Open Hours - Allows authors to enter rich text content.  Open Hours

Open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. See 'Other Information' for Visiting Hours.

Contact Us - Allows authors to enter rich text content.  Contact Us

Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Centre direct number:

02 9477 9500