About This Program


The Child Psychiatry Emergency Consult Service at Massachusetts General Hospital provides care for children and adolescents up to age 19 who present to Mass General’s Emergency Department with acute psychiatric crises. The service includes faculty and residents who provide consultations to emergency department clinicians and direct clinical care for pediatric patients facing acute psychiatric problems.

The service provides a broad range of services to meet the needs of each individual patient, including:

  • Diagnostic assessment and rapid stabilization
  • Initial treatment
  • Referral to appropriate levels of care for ongoing services including inpatient units, partial hospitals and outpatient resources

Program Highlights

The work of the Child Psychiatry Emergency Consult Service is driven primarily by clinical care, teaching and training. Our work includes:

  • Round-the-clock consultation to Emergency Department clinicians in multiple disciplines working with pediatric patients
  • Direct clinical care for children and adolescents
  • Education and training for residents and faculty in child and adolescent psychiatry, adult psychiatry, pediatrics and pediatric neurology
  • Clinical research, quality assessment/quality improvement (QA/QI) projects and position papers in collaboration with emergency psychiatry and medicine providers

Accessing Our Services

Treatment at the Child Psychiatry Emergency Consult Service

Please be aware that we are unable to provide treatment by phone or by appointment. All care takes place face-to-face in our dedicated area within the Emergency Department at Mass General.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the high volume of emergency patients at Mass General, we encourage you to access other resources if your child does not need emergency psychiatric care. You may also contact MassGeneral Hospital for Children's Outpatient Pediatric Psychiatric Services at 617-724-5600. You can also access care through Boston Emergency Services Team.

Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST)

BEST sends mobile crisis clinicians to homes, schools, outpatient clinics and other community locations. BEST provides 24-hour response to adults and youth in need of crisis intervention for mental health and substance use concerns. The BEST team is made up of experienced, master’s-level clinicians, psychiatrists, family partners, certified peer specialists, advanced practice nurses, registered nurses and mental health workers.

How to Access BEST

Phone: 800-981-HELP (800-981-4357)

The BEST toll-free number can be used 24 hours a day to initiate services. Call center clinicians provide information and referral options or arrange an in-person evaluation. BEST was created to serve people with no insurance or with Mass Health, however, more commercial insurances are starting to support mobile/urgent care emergency services.

Please contact BEST to find out whether your insurance covers their services.

Our Research

Child psychiatry residents and faculty conduct clinical research and quality assessment and quality improvement (QA/QI) projects within the Emergency Department setting. We collaborate with emergency psychiatry and medicine providers at Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions.

Clinical Research Projects

A few of our recent clinical research projects include:

  • Screening general medical/surgical adolescents in the Emergency Department for occult suicidality
  • Using the Pediatric Symptom Checklist in the Emergency Department to identify a population of children and adolescents presenting for medical care with previously undiagnosed mental health problems
  • Building a risk prediction model for prolonged stay in the Emergency Department for psychiatric emergencies in children and adolescents

Quality Assessment and Quality Improvement Projects

Examples of recent QA/QI projects include:

  • Reducing the length of stay for children who present to the Emergency Department with psychiatric crises
  • Implementing a protocol for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders presenting to the Emergency Department

Professional Training

The Child Psychiatry Emergency Consult Service provides education and training for residents and faculty within the Department of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology in the management of children and adolescents who present with acute psychiatric crises. In addition, our faculty work with pediatric emergency medicine faculty to regularly review clinical guidelines and foster new clinical and research collaborations.

The service’s director, Laura M. Prager, MD, and associate director, John Tyson, MD, teach courses for psychiatry and pediatric residents in every stage of training. These include: