Emergency Psychiatry Service

Emergency Psychiatry Service Overview

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Located within the Department of Psychiatry, the Emergency Psychiatry Service at Boston Children's Hospital provides specialized psychiatric services to children, teens and their families who visit Boston Children's emergency room in crisis.

Our goals are to stabilize our patients, promote healthy coping strategies and direct children and their families to the most appropriate follow-up care.

We provide:

  • psychiatric evaluations
  • crisis intervention
  • treatment
  • resource referrals 

Is your child having an emergency?

If your child is at immediate risk for self-harm or is a danger to others, always call 911 immediately.

  • When children arrive in our ER, they are always medically evaluated first to rule out medical issues that may look like a psychiatric condition.

  • They are then referred to one of our team members who provides them with a psychiatric evaluation and determines the next step in their treatment.
  • Treatment may include crisis intervention in the ER, inpatient hospitalization or a range of outpatient services, either at Children's or at another treatment facility or hospital.

Calling ahead

If your child is not at risk of immediate harm but you have concerns about his or her mental health, please call us before coming to the ER. Call our page operator at 617-355-6369 and ask for the on-call psychiatric clinician.

By calling ahead you can:

  • talk directly with the psychiatric clinician-on-call about your child's condition

  • verify if your insurance covers psychiatric services at Children's

  • potentially access crisis evaluation outside the ER, therefore avoiding a lengthy ER visit


Spotlights

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Delivering psychiatric care in the ED: Keeping adolescents in crisis out of limbo

Vector Emergency Psychiatry Service

Recognizing that a breakdown in child-family communication is often the real trigger for suicidal behavior, and observing that working with these families while they are in crisis can help teens come to a point where they are no longer suicidal and safe to go home, Elizabeth Wharff, PhD, MSW, LICSW, director of the Emergency Psychiatry Service at Children’s Hospital Boston, and her team have piloted a model of what they call family-based crisis intervention, or FBCI.

Carried out in the ED by a trained psychiatric clinician, FBCI aims to help the family learn how to talk to and support their teenager during a crisis, while reinforcing for teens that they can count on their parents so that they feel safe going home.

Read more.


In the spotlight

Screenshot of How-to guide to Boston Children's mental health services in Massachusetts

Boston Children's has teamed up with the Boston Bar Assoc. (BBA) to create this guide. Our aim is to help families access services and allow them to better understand how they can advocate for their children with mental health care needs.

 

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Request an Appointment

If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

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Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
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This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

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If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

617-355-6000 +1-617-355-6000
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