Types of Mental Health Emergencies for Teens


Because of risk-taking, rebelliousness, and drug experimentation, you might imagine that teens might end up in the hospital for one reason or another. However, there are some common reasons that tend to bring a teen to the emergency room. This article will list those common situations as well as provide parents and caregivers with tips on what to do during an emergency.


Each year, there are approximately 25.5 million children under the age of 18 who are taken to the emergency room. Though these numbers can be frightening, hospitals are intended to provide intense, but brief care so that your child or teen can go home with you, as soon as possible.


Common reasons behind having to admit a teen to a hospital emergency room include:

  • Violence-related experiences
  • emotional disturbance
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Suicide attempts/ideation
  • Drug and alcohol abuse (alcohol poisoning)
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Physical illnesses that affect a teen’s mental health


If you are in southern California, Los Angeles’ Children’s Hospital might be a hospital to consider if your teen needs immediate assistance. Last year, it was named one of the top ten children’s hospitals in the country according to U.S. News. In fact, the hospital has been ranked in the top ten list every year since it was established in 2009.


However, if you are not in the area, you may need to call 911 or the hospital that is nearest to you. You might consider the following resources for additional support:


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Adolescents (or anyone) in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can call 1-800-273-TALK.  Calls made to this 24-hour hotline are routed to the caller’s nearest crisis center.



YouMatter is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site for young adults, complete with a blog where visitors can share your problems and get support.


Mental Health Provider: Call a therapist or psychologist or in your neighborhood. Keep in mind that if it is after business hours, many mental health professionals will not be available.


SAMHSA Helpline: If your teen is experiencing a drug-related emergency that does not require the immediate assistance of a doctor, you might call the SAMHSA Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


This is a list of resources for both teens and parents to use when the situation calls for it. In addition to the above resources, you might also want to call a mental health professional to support you. Furthermore, parents and caregivers should consider creating a safety plan for when symptoms begin to escalate in order to prevent another emergency. A therapist, counselor, or psychologist can assist you with creating a plan that meets your needs and utilizes the resources you have available. Also, adults should stay in communication with the mental health provider working with teens so that they are aware of any challenges that arise.


However, if your teen is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately. In this situation,  your teen may be threatening to harm themselves or someone else.