Official visitors to Canberra's acute mental health wards say significant capacity issues are placing patients and staff at risk of violence.
It's the latest development amid escalating concerns about the state of ACT's acute mental health system, struggling under unprecedented demand.
A mental health official visitor report said more than 100 people a month were going through Canberra Hospital's adult mental health unit. Just 12 months prior that number was 40.
Meanwhile emails obtained under freedom of information show the minister was warned by official visitor Shannon Pickles that 40 acute beds was not enough to meet demand.
He said staff were quitting because of the stress of the unit.
The visitors' report said demand was so high short stay beds were regularly used to hold longer term patients while a medical ward was semi-regularly used in the same way.
The high dependency unit of the ward was under such high pressure that some patients were pushed into the low dependency unit before they were ready, the report tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday said.
The report said the capacity issues were leading to high levels of occupational and consumer on consumer violence.
"It's not if you will get hit, it's when you will get hit," staff are reported to have said.
Patients also reported feeling unsafe on the ward due to high levels of violence and aggression.
The report noted patients were being held in acute settings after they were well enough to leave because they didn't have a home to be discharged to.
Emails obtained under freedom of information showed Mr Pickles contacted Mr Rattenbury's office after visiting the Canberra Hospital ward.
"I am sure you are aware but the crisis in bed pressure at the [adult mental health unit] is continuing," it read.
"When I was there in the last week there was 40 of 37 beds booked with another 13 persons in ED waiting for a bed.
"Whilst more exit options is obviously part of the problem, an issue that is potentially not being looked at (because it is not a pleasant thought) is that 40 crisis beds is just not enough to meet the system's current demand."
Despite the concerns the visitors' report said through all the difficulties staff received high praise.
"Many consumers often predicate their complaints by starting with the statement that the nurses are lovely/helpful/great but," the report said.
The official visitors said it was clear more funding needed to be invested in the crisis end of mental health care.
Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury said the government was aware of the challenges faced in the acute mental health system.
He said he was strategically planning and working to address the issues through a variety of projects and pathways.
While the official visitors called for more acute funding, Mr Rattenbury said the leading priority was funding ways to divert people from hospital and provide care in community-based environments.
"Across the board mental health services provide consistent, high quality care for patients seeking treatment and I am proud to report that the official visitors receive very high praise for the staff and support at the facilities," he said.
"Mental health systems rely on these highly skilled and caring individuals and I commend these workers for their effort and ongoing commitment to patient care."
Opposition health spokeswoman Vicki Dunne said Mr Rattenbury had been deflecting attention by talking about the need for sub-acute beds.
"This latest official visitor reports shows that we are right to be concerned and that there is a crisis in the acute mental health area with unconscionable waits and unconscionable levels of violence," she said.