Looks like we're in the same neck of the woods! I'm not sure specifically what type of scenario you're talking about -- inpatient or outpatient mental health care? Treatment of the uninsured?
We are lucky in that here in the TC there are a wealth of non profit agencies and government run programs for disadvantaged pts. Health care for the homeless; red door clinic; several free and sliding scale clinics; just to name a few. Depending on what you're talking about, you might want to keep a list of resources handy for quick referral.
I can completely commiserate with your frustration. We had a woman come in to our clinic recently with a screaming baby who, IMO, evidenced some serious neglect. Way too far below normal weight for my comfort. Another nurse dealt with her and, after talking to her, sent her on her way with a pamphlet for the crisis nursery. Didn't get any demographic information or anything so we could follow up, do a PHN referral. She was not an established pt so we didn't have this information already. She did offer her an appt with the MD, but of course the mom refused.
To me, it seems like this was just the easy way out, and because of one person's laziness, an opportunity to help this baby was squandered. This has really been haunting me lately, and I wish I would have gotten more involved and not worried about stepping on the other nurse's toes...
oh, and by the way, afterwards this nurse said to me (and has said this before), "well, we can't save everyone..." :angryfire
Another thought -- if you work in a hospital, is there a hospital ombudsman you could contact?