The Royal University Hospital announced Wednesday they are getting a much needed addition to their mental health care services: a temporary mental health assessment unit.

The new unit will be attached to the Emergency Room and will be used to assess people with emergency mental health care needs in a safer and more private area.

The unit will hold up to seven patients at a time, and will emphasize an environment that won't worsen a patient's mental state.

There will be a specific focus around reducing wait times and improving responses in emergency departments for people with mental health and addictions issues, which coincides with recommendations from the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan.

"It certainly is overdue from our point of view in the sense of how patients and families have been really asking for it, and we know from ourselves working with them that this is such a needed thing, so we're just really so thankful for it," said Dr. Marilyn Baetz, head of psychiatry at RUH.

Renovations on the unit will begin this month, and are scheduled to be finished by early 2018.

The unit is being renovated with a $1-million donation from the Dubé family through the Royal University Hospital Foundation.

The unit will only be operating until the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital opens in 2019, which will include an adult emergency waiting room with private areas more suitable for mental health emergency care and assessment services.

The Saskatoon Health region will cover operating costs, with capitals costs coming from the RUH Foundation.