Where do I call to get immediate help and what will
If you believe that your child is at immediate risk of harm to
himself and you do not think you can keep him safe CALL
police and emergency responders are trained to save lives.
- Call 911 and tell the dispatcher that you believe your child
is at immediate risk of harming himself; give the details that
- Stay with your child until the police and emergency service
- Be clear with the emergency service what happened and the nature
of your concerns.
- The police and emergency service will first ensure the immediate
safety of the child. Their role is not to evaluate, but to determine
if the child is in need of transport to the nearest emergency
room where he will be evaluated. They may ask for the name
of the child’s therapist or psychiatrist. If the emergency
responders determine that they should transport your child to
ensure safety they will contact the emergency service for a section
12 or authorization for involuntary transport to an evaluation.
You can also call Riverside Crisis Emergency Services 781
769 8674 or 800 529 5077 24 hours a day for help about how to proceed
in a critical situation. If you are in Needham and are concerned
about the potential of your child harming himself and you are sure
that you can safely transport your child, go to the nearest emergency
room. Norwood Caritas and Newton Wellesley Hospitals are larger
and better equipped to respond than Beth Israel Deaconess in Needham.
If possible, have another adult with you and call the emergency
room to let them know you are on the way.
Emergency Psychiatric Evaluations
- From Needham your child will be transported to Newton Wellesley
Hospital’s emergency room. When the child arrives at the
emergency room, he will first be medically cleared. Outside of
Needham, transport is to the nearest emergency room with crisis
- Your insurance has a contract with emergency evaluators; at
Newton Wellesley Hospital it is the hospital’s team and
at Norwood Caritas Hospital it is staff from Riverside Mental
Health Center. Some insurance companies have different
providers contracted for these emergency room sites.
- An emergency evaluator will arrive. Ask him to contact
your child’s psychiatrist and therapist if he has one as
part of the evaluation.
- The evaluator should speak with you and your child at length
to determine the nature of the risk and the intervention needed.
The evaluation service is authorized to involuntarily commit
a child at risk for at least 72 hours or to ask you to sign a
conditional voluntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital. The
evaluator is also authorized by the insurance company to find
a hospital placement and to arrange ambulance transportation
to that placement.
- If you do not think your child is safe to leave the
hospital, do not take him with you. You can insist
on a second opinion by a psychiatrist or another evaluator
if the child was seen by a non-psychiatrist. Do not leave
until you really believe there is an effective plan to keep
your child safe. Emergency service providers need your approval
for any plan when they recommend that your child can leave
the evaluation and go home with you.