U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau has released Critical Crossroads: Pediatric Mental Health Care in the Emergency Department, a toolkit designed to support the mission of improving emergency care for children in mental health crises.
The toolkit is designed to take a step forward in providing support to hospitals that share HRSA’s vision of providing high-quality, effective emergency care to pediatric patients in psychiatric distress. Pediatric psychiatric emergencies constitute a large and growing segment of pediatric emergency medical care needs, and emergency medical systems play a critical role in the coordination and management of these children. Emergency departments around the country are increasingly becoming the safety net for a fragmented mental health infrastructure in which children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable populations. Special acknowledgment is given to the disproportionate burden in rural areas, where services are often limited.
The toolkit contains literature references and tools that can be used by hospitals to support the creation of care pathways to improve the identification and management of children and adolescents who present to the ED in a mental health crisis.