Children's mental health emergencies--part 2: emergency department evaluation and treatment of children with mental health disorders

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2008 Jul;24(7):485-98. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b13e31817de2bb.


Objective: The emergency physician should be familiar with the wide spectrum of pediatric mental health emergencies because they are commonly encountered in emergency medical practice.

Methods: A review of the literature was done in order to develop an approach for dealing with children presenting with mental health disorders in the emergency department (ED).

Results: Children' mental health emergencies have a wide spectrum from behavioral disturbances to major depression. An approach to the issues involved in caring for these patients is discussed which acknowledges the essential role of the emergency physician and the importance of integrating ED care with multidisciplinary services.

Conclusions: The actions and directions taken in the ED are a crucial part of the child's long-term care and treatment. The ED evaluation and management of pediatric mental health emergencies may vary depending on the complaint and includes differentiation from organic etiologies, medical stabilization, and occasionally in depth psychosocial interview.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Control / methods*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / classification
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mood Disorders* / classification
  • Mood Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders* / therapy
  • Pediatrics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention