Emergency Psychiatry Service
Who we are
The Emergency Psychiatry Service at Boston Children's Hospital provides specialized psychiatric services for children, adolescents and their families in crisis who visit the emergency room (ER) at Children's Division of Emergency Medicine.
|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.
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
Delivering psychiatric care in the ED: Keeping adolescents in crisis out of limbo
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.
In the spotlight
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.
Conditions & Treatments
- Binge eating disorder
- Coping with frightening events
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Major depression
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Psychological complications of chronic illness
- Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Tourette's Disorder