Our Youth Inpatient Services Program

When a child or adolescent experiences an emergency related to mental health issues or continues to struggle with mental health issues in other levels of care, inpatient treatment may be needed.

The University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) at University of Utah Health has four youth inpatient units — 66 beds in all — dedicated to treating children (ages 4 to 11) and adolescents (ages 12 to 17) who need mental health services. In addition to our inpatient services, our clinical care teams also offer other treatment options for patients and families, including outpatient care and day treatment.

Each of our patients will have a multi-disciplinary care team that includes: 

  • a psychiatrist,
  • a psychologist for individual and family psychotherapy and psychological assessment, as needed,
  • psychiatric technicians,
  • nurses,
  • social workers, and
  • expressive therapists.
two girls smiling during group therapy

Why Choose U of U Health?

We take a personalized approach to each patient. Treatment plans specifically address each child or adolescent’s mental health needs. In addition, our Youth Inpatient Services offers:   

  • an abundant nursing staff-to-patient ratio of 1:3. Each nursing staff member cares for only three patients at a time, which allows them to get to know the patient and his or her needs on a very personal level.
  • an integrated and multi-disciplinary care model with physicians, nurses, expressive therapists, psychologists, dieticians and social workers.
  • a connection to an academic medical center at the University of Utah. This affiliation allows our providers to be on the cutting edge of current research and new, evidence-based treatments for youth mental health services and resources.
  • a robust teaching and learning environment for patients and care providers.
  • high levels of employee engagement, retention and satisfaction, which gives patients exceptional continuity of care.
  • patient satisfaction rankings among the top in the nation for teenage mental health facilities, according to our Press Ganey surveys.
  • beautiful, clean, and well-designed facilities that don't feel like a hospital or an “institution.”

Treating Common Mental Health Issues in Teens & Children

Our clinical care teams are equipped to treat the whole spectrum of mental health needs effectively. We work with children and teens experiencing a wide range of mental health issues, including:

  • depression,
  • generalized anxiety disorders,
  • obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorders (OCD),
  • post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD),
  • social anxiety,
  • phobias,
  • eating disorders,
  • drug and alcohol addiction,
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
  • autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders,
  • schizophrenia,
  • bipolar disorder,
  • personality disorders,
  • dissociative disorders,
  • suicidal, homicidal, or other violent behaviors.

Inpatient vs Residential Treatment vs Day Treatment

There are many different levels of care for children and teens struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. We may recommend various types of support depending on the needs of your child or teen, including:

  • Inpatient treatment — This type of treatment takes place in a secure facility that provides 24-hour care, like what we offer at UNI. Our nurses and clinical staff monitor patients at all times of the day and night. Think of inpatient treatment as an “intensive care unit” for mental health. Children and teens will receive care here to stabilize them and reduce any immediate risks to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of people around them. They will also receive a long-term plan for care.
  • Residential treatment — This offers a structured living environment with staff who assist youth throughout the day and provide supervision at night. Some patients will go to a residential facility after inpatient care.  
  • Day treatment programs These programs provide therapy and other services during the day. At the end of each day, the child or teen will return home for the night, allowing him or her the opportunities to practice the therapeutic skills that were taught during the day. 

Mental Health Treatments

Our UNI program offers several types of mental health treatments and therapies for children and teenage patients. These include:

  • Individual and family therapy — Patients will receive four therapy sessions each week.
  • Medication management — We will review medications, adjust dosage, or change medications as necessary to achieve the best outcome for your child or teen.
  • Psychological assessment (as needed) — We may utilize this assessment to clarify a patient’s diagnosis and help guide our treatment plan.
  • Experiential therapy — This type of therapy incorporates art, music, and recreation to help children and teens identify and express their feelings and thoughts.
  • Healthy living groups — In these group sessions, we will discuss how food, diet, and exercise impact your child or teen’s mental and physical health.

Admissions Process for Youth Inpatient Services

Before we admit your child or adolescent into our Youth Inpatient Services program, he or she will receive a clinical assessment to determine the level of care that is appropriate based upon:

  • the potential risk your child or adolescent presents to themselves or others, and
  • whether your child or adolescent has adequate protective factors to keep him or her safe outside of a secure environment. 

Anyone can refer a child or adolescent to the UNI Youth Inpatient Services program. Referrals commonly come from:

  • parents,
  • doctors or pediatricians,
  • teachers or school administrators,
  • coaches,
  • emergency room physicians, and
  • others concerned about a child or teen’s safety.

Walk-in admissions are also welcome. Adolescents can be assessed for admissions regardless of whether or not their parent or guardian is present. We will do everything we can to locate the adolescent's parents or guardians and involve them in the process for admission and ongoing care.

Some children and adolescents do not meet our criteria for inpatient treatment. In those cases, we will work with parents and other community support members to help children and adolescents get the residential or outpatient care they need.

Wait Time for Inpatient Treatment

There is no wait time to be admitted to our inpatient treatment program. However, the availability of the program can vary depending on how many patients are currently seeking treatment. Our team works hard to ensure that we have a physician, staff, and available space to admit every child or adolescent who needs inpatient care for mental health services.

Cost of Treatment

Most of the mental health treatments offered in our Youth Inpatient Services program is covered by insurance. For patients without access to insurance coverage, we have financial counselors available who will work with you to find options for financial aid or other ways to pay for the treatment. We partner with insurance providers and payers, as well as community groups, to ensure that every adolescent and child who needs treatment is able to access care.

What to Expect When Your Teen or Child Is Admitted for Inpatient Therapy & Treatment

Each patient’s experience in our program varies because individualized care plans are tailored to our patient's needs. Our goal is to help your child or teenager overcome a current crisis and move forward with improved mental health. 

Average Length of Stay

The average length of stay in our youth mental health inpatient treatment facility is approximately seven to nine days. A stay could be longer or shorter depending on the patient’s safety and readiness to be discharged.

Checking In

We require parent or guardian involvement during the intake process. Upon arrival, they will be greeted by an admitting staff member who will walk them through admission paperwork and obtain signatures giving UNI consent to provide treatment. This process will take approximately 20 minutes. Once the admission paperwork is completed, the child and parent or guardian will be escorted to the treatment unit and introduced to the inpatient nursing staff. The remainder of the intake process will include unit orientation, nursing assessment, and history and physical.

Most children or teens in the inpatient program will have a single-occupancy room (no roommate), if available. However, there are situations when a child or teenager benefits from having a roommate. For example, if being alone would impact treatment.

Upon arriving for check-in, we recommend limiting the number of belongings you bring to keep the units safe and make your child feel comfortable.

Items the patient may need include:

  • three days’ worth of comfortable clothing that adheres to the unit;
  • guidelines;
  • comfortable outdoor/athletic shoes;
  • toiletries;
  • soft bound books (paperback);
  • comforts of home: pictures, pillow or blanket, stuffed animal, etc.; or
  • non-electronic leisure activities such as puzzles, soft bound books, and coloring.

Items that are not allowed include (but not limited to):

  • clothing with hoods,
  • clothing with drawstrings, and
  • any items with metal.

Our team will review things that are not allowed (for privacy or other reasons). If your child or teen has those things, we will send them home with you or another family member.

Daily Programs

A typical day during inpatient treatment may include the following programs: 

It’s important for parents or caregivers to be involved in these therapies as much as possible. We recognize that many families have other things they need to attend to during the time their child or teenager is in inpatient treatment, such as work or caring for other children. We will do our best to accommodate the schedules of parents and caregivers.

Day of Discharge

When a child or teenager completes their inpatient program, we provide them with a clear discharge plan, which may include: 

  • recommendation and instructions to enter a residential treatment program, day treatment program, or intensive outpatient program (IOP),
  • information on how to take medications, and
  • ongoing individual, family, and/or group therapy appointments.

Mental Health Resources

If your child or adolescent is not in an immediate or life-threatening situation, you can seek help in several ways by:

UNI Mobile Crisis Outreach Team

We have mobile crisis outreach team members who can come to your home—along with law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, if necessary—and help you decide whether your child or adolescent needs a higher level of care at the emergency room or our inpatient treatment center.

Contact Us

For questions and to learn more about the Inpatient Youth Services at UNI, call 801-583-2500. If you’d like to visit our inpatient treatment center today, please call first. However, we do accept walk-ins.

Contact our CrisisLine