Emergency mental health admissions for children: A naturalistic study

Marinos Kyriakopoulos*, Dennis Ougrin, Carmel Fraser, Gillene Thomas, Rachel McMahon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Emergency mental health admissions (EA) for children under 13 years are not routinely offered in the UK, which may be related to preconceptions about their safety, appropriateness and acceptability. Our aim was to evaluate routinely offered EA of children in a national unit over a three-year period.

Method: A retrospective, naturalistic study was conducted, comparing EA with planned admissions (PA) in terms of childrens functioning on admission and discharge, clinical characteristics, significant risk-related incidents and parental and children satisfaction.

Results: EA children (N=47) did not differ from PA children (N=35) in age, length of admission, medication treatment, significant risk-related incidents, functioning at discharge, access to education at discharge and satisfaction. EA children had lower functioning and were less likely to have been out of education on admission. Parental satisfaction in EA was higher compared to PA.

Conclusions: EA for children are an appropriate, clinically indicated and safe alternative to PA, associated with higher parental satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-19
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2015


  • Children's inpatient units
  • children's mental health
  • clinical effectiveness
  • emergency admissions
  • service user experience


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