What to Expect

What to Expect When Seeking Care with Cincinnati Children’s Psychiatry

Sometimes, it’s not so easy being a kid. When your child needs help – whether that's a small child working through very big feelings and emotions or a teen struggling to navigate everyday pressures – we’re here to help.

Our child and adolescent psychiatry team offer a wide range of care that can support your child and family. We offer the following:

  • Outpatient services: Therapy sessions, medication management, parent education and support groups
  • Partial hospitalization: Children and teens attend our partial hospitalization program (PHP) during the day and return home at night
  • Inpatient services: Our services focus on stabilizing patients, 17 and under, during crisis
  • School-based therapy programs:
    • Adapting for Life helps young people better understand their mental health and identify drivers that impact it
    • Outpatient therapy sessions in a school-based setting

Finding the Best Services for Your Family

The first team you’ll often work with in our department is our Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC). Your child’s pediatrician, mental health provider or school may refer you to the PIRC. We work with children and adolescents in our emergency rooms and PIRC – Bridge Crisis Clinic.

This group of caring and compassionate professionals will help you decide what path forward will best meet your child’s needs. Together, we’ll review your child’s medical history, behaviors, struggles and current or past diagnosis.

Then, our experienced psychiatric social workers and clinical counselors will assess your child and recommend the appropriate level of care for your child. At every step of the way, you will have the opportunity to advocate for your child.

Please, contact us with any questions or concerns. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in one of our Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Departments.

The PIRC also offers the following services from 8am to 8pm:

  • Respond to phone calls about care questions, concerns and provide recommendations on when and where to seek emergency care
  • Connect families with services in the community
  • Answer questions about our inpatient, partial hospitalization, outpatient and community services
  • Provide outpatient crisis care appointments, referred to as a “Bridge Appointment”

Emergency Care for Mental Health Crisis

When a child or adolescent is experiencing a mental health crisis and expressing suicidal thoughts or actions, it’s important to get them immediate emergency care. If your child or adolescent is experiencing a life-threatening mental health emergency, please seek care immediately. If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, but it is not life threatening, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or PIRC at 513-636-4124.

The emergency departments (ED) at our Burnet and Liberty Township campuses are supported by experienced psychiatric social workers and clinical counselors. Our goal is to assess your child and recommend an appropriate level of care.

If you determine your child needs immediate psychiatric care, here’s what you can expect at our emergency department.

  • What to bring: Please bring a list of current medications and dosage, insurance card and other mental health or medical provider contact information.
  • Registration / Triage: When arriving at the ED, registration staff will collect information about demographics, insurance and behaviors your child is exhibiting. The nursing staff will assess your child’s needs and how urgent those needs are.
  • Treatment room: Based on the urgency of the situation, you’ll be moved into one of our private rooms.
  • Medical evaluation: Your child will receive medical care. A nurse will take their vitals and discuss symptoms, behaviors or areas that need medical attention. A doctor will then visit with your child to complete a more thorough exam and provide the necessary care.
  • Psychiatric evaluation: Once medical needs have been met, a psychiatric social worker or clinical counselor will meet with your child and family. We’ll discuss what brought you in to the emergency department, medical history, mental health diagnosis, crisis plans, family history and a thorough mental status examination.
  • Plan of care / Discharge from ED: Once we have a clear picture of your child’s overall physical and mental health, we will work with you to determine the best plan of care. This may include admission to our inpatient psychiatric unit or referrals to other levels of care.

Please remember that you and your child may encounter a significant wait. However, your child will be monitored by the ED staff in a safe environment. Rest assured that everything will be done by the PIRC and ED staff to try to expedite the experience.

After Your Visit to the Emergency Department

You’ll receive an “After Visit Summary” that includes information about your visit and recommended plan of care. It will also include contact information for the PIRC and referrals to mental health providers in the community, if needed.

Contact Us

Contacting the PIRC is the first step in getting your child the help they need.

Due to the volume of calls and patients in the emergency department, please leave a message with your name, the name of your child and phone contact, and a PIRC representative will return your call. 

Find more mental health resources.