Online Grand Rounds and Video Library

The Intersection of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Acute Psychiatric Care: Rapid Creation of an Innovative Multi-Level Mental Health System of Care


Elizabeth McCauley, PhD, ABPP

Erika Miller, BSN, RN-BC

Shannon Simmons, MD, MPH

Eric Boelter, PhD, BCBA-D

Tyler Sasser, PhD

Eileen Twohy, PhD



When patients experience a mental health emergency, inpatient psychiatric care can stabilize the immediate crisis and support the child and family in resuming life and treatment in the community. In an infectious disease pandemic, the risk-benefit assessment of inpatient care becomes more fluid and complex, and the available ecosystem of care becomes even more important. An infectious disease pandemic also brings life-altering changes (e.g., school closures, quarantine, reduced access to routine activities and care), which can destabilize a wider swath of youth and families and increase the need for acute mental health services. There is little research support or practice guidelines regarding best practices for treating youth before, during and after an acute mental health crisis in a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.