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Emergency Mental Health Care

When a child or teen needs emergency mental health care, Children's Minnesota is here to help. Children's Minnesota provides emergency mental health care at both our Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals. We also have an inpatient mental health unit at our St. Paul hospital. Children may be transferred here or to another facility once their emergency needs are taken care of. We will talk with you about what emergency treatments are best to keep your child, you, other patients, and staff safe. 

What happens if my child is in the hospital?

At Children's, staff treat and stabilize children in a mental health crisis, and they care for any medical needs your child may have. During this process, your child will likely stay in the Children's Minnesota emergency department. While in the emergency department, your child will have a team of skilled professionals including a social worker, bedside nurse, physician and either a clinical support associate (CSA) or emergency medical technician (EMT). The social worker will be the primary staff working with you and your child to ensure the best mental health plan.  The physician and nurse will ensure your child's medical needs are cared for and the CSA/EMT will help monitor your child for safety. 

Because this part of the hospital is for acute care and is not a psychiatric hospital, staff will take special precautions to keep your child safe. 

  • Your child will not be alone, even for a moment. A staff member will always be with your child, including trips to the bathroom. Same-gender staff can accompany your child if needed. 
  • Your child will need to stay in a special room that is designed to keep them as safe as possible.  
  • Visitors may be restricted at times. 
  • If your child is at risk for hurting themselves or others, we may need to use emergency treatments, such as: 
    • calming medicines
    • physical restraints
    • security personnel

Once your child is stabilized and treated for any medical needs, a transfer to a psychiatric treatment facility will be arranged if your child cannot be cared for at home. While we will try to find a facility that is close to your home, this may not always be possible. 

Most children are in the emergency department for many hours before the mental health assessment is complete. If your child requires hospitalization, it is common to spend at least one night in the emergency department while trying to secure a bed at an inpatient psychiatric facility. 


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to the doctor, nurse, or social worker. 

Reviewed 2/2024

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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