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Staying at the Hospital

This section has information to help you and your family prepare for treatment on our inpatient mental health units.

Our inpatient services provide assessment and treatment for mental illness to children and youth while they stay at the hospital.

Who we treat

We have inpatient mental health services for children and youth up to the age of 18 from British Columbia (BC) or the Yukon. To access these services, you need a referral from a health care provider such as your child's family doctor (GP) or a community mental health clinician.

To be eligible for our services, children and youth will have already accessed mental health care in their own communities and need more intensive services.

Our mental health units

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - These inpatient units are for youth ages 5-11 and 12-18. Our child inpatient unit is offering a mainly virtual program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Emergency (CAPE) - A short-term unit for youth up to age 16 who need support during a crisis. For more information, please visit the mental health emergencies section on the Help Finding Resources page
  • Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program - Inpatient treatment for youth up to age 18. For more information, please visit the Eating Disorders page

Services we offer


‎Our Consultation Clinic includes a nurse clinician, a psychiatrist, and other health care providers as needed. This group reviews all referrals to our inpatient services. We also require a consult ;with your community health care providers as part of the referral process.


Members of our team will do a wellness assessment. The team may include psychiatry, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, social work, and special education.


After the assessment, we will explain the diagnosis to you and answer any questions you may have.


Our team will provide treatment while your child stays in the hospital. Treatment may include individual, family and group therapy. Treatment may also include medication for a trial period to see if effective.


As a parent or caregiver, you play an important role in the treatment of your child and their return home. We provide family assessment, intervention, support and education.


We have teachers to support your child's learning in hospital and in their return to school in their community. This may include testing and strategies for the classroom. Teachers may also recommend additional supports for your child.

We provide services through our Consultation Clinic to support you and your child's transition back to the community.‎


Assessment & treatment

You or your child need a referral from a health care or mental health care provider before using our services. 

Preparing for assessment & treatment

After you or your child are accepted to our inpatient services, we provide as much information as possible to prepare you for admission and treatment.

You and your child will meet with the consultation team:

  • For an assessment
  • To discuss your goals
  • To find out what to expect during an admission 

Admission may be voluntary or involuntary. For more information about involuntary admission (also known as being certified), please see The Mental Health Act Video: Being Certified.

During treatment

Our inpatient units are committed to care that is patient and family-centred. That means you and your family play an active role in the assessment and treatment plan. Our team will work with you and your family to develop a plan that meets the needs and challenges that brought you to BC Children's Hospital.  We provide a setting based on recovery and learning, where mental health professionals are available around the clock.

Visits from family and evening or weekend passes are a key part of treatment. We work with you and your family to plan visits and passes that best meet your treatment needs and goals.

Therapy and interventions

The types of therapy and interventions offered will be specific to your child and based on their ongoing assessment. Interventions may include:

Your counselling appointments are with a health care provider, such as a psychologist. They may be one-on-one, or include family members. Group therapy includes other patients and one or more health care providers; family members may also be present. A variety of therapies may be used over the course of treatment. ‎


A psychiatrist will work with you or your child to find the ideal medication regimen to best manage a mental illness with minimal side effects.


An educational professional will work with your child to ensure that their education is minimally impacted by their treatment. This may include education support while they are being treated in one of our inpatient units, or transition planning to ensure their return to school is successful.


Our health care team will provide information and education on diagnosis and treatment to patients and their family members. The goal is to help patients and their families better understand and manage living with a mental illness.


These are groups that will connect family members of youth experiencing mental illness, so that they can provide peer support, advice and encouragement to one another.


Our health care teams will work with children and their families to collaboratively come up with a plan for treating and managing mental illness. This plan will actively involve family members and the child’s community health care provider, in addition services offered at the hospital.


The length of an admission may range from several weeks to several months, depending upon the response to treatment and goals of the admission. After treatment at the hospital, we will work closely with you and your child, your family, and your community care providers to ensure a smooth transition back to your home community. 

For more information about the types of therapy, visit BC Children's Kelty Mental health Resource Centre website.

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