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Camber Children's Mental Health

What to Expect When Admitting Your Child to a Psychiatric Hospital

If your child is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat live at If you’re in Kansas or Missouri, call Camber Children’s Mental Health at 913-890-7468 to find out about admission to a children’s psychiatric hospital near you.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in February 2018 and was updated in April 2024 to share new information.

Admission to a mental health hospital can be an emotional but necessary decision for caregivers who are concerned about a child. Most often, someone receiving this level of treatment needs professional help for severe depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), disruptive or dangerous behaviors or other mental health conditions.

Annmarie Arensberg, Vice President at Camber Children's Mental Health for psychiatric hospital admissions

Annmarie Arensberg

It’s natural for family members to have several questions about the admission process and what to expect while their child is in the hospital. In this blog, we asked Annmarie Arensberg, LSCSW, Vice President of Clinical Access and Outreach at Camber Children’s Mental Health, to explain the admissions process and answer common questions from caregivers

Camber is the region’s leading provider of inpatient mental health hospital treatment for youth, serving ages 6 to 18 across Kansas, Missouri and the larger Midwest region.

Q: How does the process of admission to a psychiatric hospital start?

Arensberg: The process typically starts with a phone call from a parent or guardian or as a referral from another healthcare organization or community partner. Our admissions team works to gather information about the child to help the family determine if hospitalization is the best treatment plan for their child or if there’s another treatment option they should consider.


Want an inside look at a Camber Children’s Mental Health hospital? Watch this video to virtually experience the admission process to a children’s psychiatric hospital:


Q: What can a child bring with them to the hospital?

Arensberg: When a child is admitted to one of Camber’s psychiatric hospitals, they should bring the following:

  • Healthcare information and immunization records; if available
  • Healthcare insurance card; if applicable
  • Medication list and any specific medications such as an inhaler, antibiotics, or allergy medicine
  • List of dietary restrictions or other special needs

Clothing, undergarments and hygiene products are provided by Camber. If the child has sensitive skin or a contact allergy, they should bring the correct body wash, lotion or laundry detergent that is medically needed.

Q: What happens after arriving at the hospital?

Arensberg: When a family arrives, a nurse or other healthcare professional will meet them in our lobby and escort them to one of our visiting rooms. They will help the family complete the admissions paperwork and go over any questions they have about their child’s treatment, including, but not limited to:

  • What services the child will receive
  • When to visit or call the child
  • Recreation and activities
  • Family involvement in the treatment process
Camber hospital front desk where you are greeted upon arrival for psychiatric hospital admissions.

Camber hospital front desk where you are greeted upon arrival.

Once all questions have been answered, families are given time for hugs and goodbyes. The child is then taken to our hospital unit where they will meet more of the treatment team and get acquainted.

We know sometimes it can be difficult for parents or guardians to be onsite at their child’s admission due to different life circumstances. When that is the case, as long as the parent or guardian sends us the completed consent paperwork we can complete the admission process over the phone.

Call us at (913) 890-7468

Q: How long does a child typically stay in the hospital for treatment?

Arensberg: Length of stay is different for each child and depends on their individual treatment needs. Typically, a child receiving care in one of our inpatient psychiatric hospitals stays with us for 4 to 6 days. Our goal is to help the child stabilize and return home as soon as safely possible, equipped with the skills, support, and resources they need to continue treatment in their community. Our treatment team works with each child’s family to create a discharge/aftercare plan and coordinate follow-up care in their home community.

Camber hospital unit for children receiving mental health treatment.

Camber hospital unit for children receiving mental health treatment.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who is considering psychiatric hospitalization for their child?

Arensberg: We know that it can be difficult to imagine taking your child to a psychiatric hospital, but it can be the best and safest place for children and teens who are going through a mental health crisis. Our Camber team members are passionate about their work and committed to providing the highest quality care for each child who comes to us for help.

Have more questions? Check out our FAQs.


Camber accepts new clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, call our team at (913) 890-7468 or complete this form: