Emergency services in Child Psychiatry at the Montreal Children's Hospital

In response to Patrick Lagacé's article in La Presse+ of December 7, 2020, we would like to clarify how emergency psychiatric assessments work at the Montreal Children's Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC.

As a first step, all children under the age of 18 who present to the MCH-MUHC Emergency Department are evaluated by a pediatrician-emergency physician. A referral is made to Psychiatry, which is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when deemed necessary.  

The situation described in the article – a 17-year-old youth in suicidal crisis –  is a frequent and relevant referral. Young people in suicidal crisis do not return home without prior psychiatric assessment. If they arrive after the usual coverage hours, they are often observed in the emergency room for assessment the following morning. The next day, a child psychiatrist and a social worker are part of the team that provides the urgent psychiatric assessment for both these patients and those who return after being deemed safe enough by the pediatric emergency physician to be sent home after a visit to the emergency department the day before. 

In addition, emergency follow-up (ERFU) is offered to patients who require follow-up after an ER visit and who are awaiting to be taken care of by community services.

The Montreal Children's Hospital is committed to the health and safety of its patients and works continuously to improve its practices and procedures. As such, we invite patients and their families to contact the MCH Ombudsman to share their concerns and work together to improve accessibility in mental health.

Dr. Martin Gignac, FRCPC


Chief of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Montreal Children Hospital, MUHC


Chair of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division

Associate Professor

McGill University