Inpatient Mental Health Care

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Children admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital through the emergency department for a mental health emergency are seen by psychiatrists and psychologists from Norton Children’s Behavioral & Mental Health, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Our specialists assess and treat children admitted to the Ackerly Child Psychiatric Unit at Norton Children’s Hospital. This 20-bed inpatient unit cares for children and adolescents with acute mental health conditions that are causing them to pose a danger to themselves or those around them.

Once admitted, youth receive care from a highly skilled team, including pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, expressive therapists, chaplains and Jefferson County Public Schools teachers. Therapeutic treatments can include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Expressive therapies, including art, music and pet therapy
  • Medications, if needed

The need for medications is assessed and discussed with children and families before they are prescribed. Prior to a patient being discharged from the unit, outpatient mental health care follow-up is arranged with appropriate providers to ensure care is continued.

Additional Services Available at Ackerly Child Psychiatric Unit

Social Worker Consultation

Each child and family is assigned a licensed clinical social worker to provide support. They meet in therapeutic sessions with family members to help set realistic goals for the patient while in the hospital and at home. Also, the assigned social worker helps families arrange discharge planning and follow-up care, as needed.


Upon admission to the unit, students are enrolled in the Jefferson County Public Schools system to ensure they are not counted absent at their regular school. This educational program includes two teachers with special education certifications and an instructional assistant. Students are evaluated to determine their reading and math skills. Small group instruction is provided using a curriculum that meets state standards as well as individual needs and learning styles.

Pastoral Care

Pastoral care services are available for spiritual support during a child’s treatment, in situations of grief or loss, or for family support while a child is hospitalized. Chaplains can lead relaxation or spiritual group sessions, participate in drama therapy or contact the child’s clergy at a parent or guardian’s request.

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