Step one: Booking in 

When you arrive, please book in at the emergency department reception desk so that we know you are here. Once you have booked in, please take a seat in the paediatric waiting area. A nurse will see you next to talk to you about why you have come to the emergency department. We call this process triage. 


We Can Talk to you using the name and pronouns you prefer to go by so please tell the staff of any personal preferences you have. 

Step two: Triage (your initial assessment) 

When it is your turn for triage, a nurse will talk to you or your parent/carer to find out more about the problem and why you have come to the emergency department. They will also do some checks (observations) and ask you to tell them about any allergies, special needs or other health problems that you may have. The nurse will use this information to help decide where you need to go next. They will discuss and explain this to you. 


We Can Talk about your problems and try to find the right person to help. 

We Can Talk to you on your own or with your parent/carer - please just let us know what you would prefer. 

We Can Talk and listen about how you are feeling. We won’t judge you and we will explain things in a clear way. 

We Can Talk about difficult or awkward subjects in a way that is not as difficult or awkward as either of us thought it would be. 

We Can Talk about self-harm and other big issues that might be worrying you. 

We Can Talk in private and will always explain to you about information that needs to be shared. 

We Can Talk about how we will look after your physical and emotional needs while you are in hospital. 

Step three: Further assessment 

After triage, you will be asked to take a seat back in one of the waiting rooms and then you will be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner for a full assessment of your physical and mental health needs. 

If at any point you feel that your condition is getting worse while you are waiting, then please tell a member of our team so we can address your concerns immediately. We are sorry if you must wait a while to be seen. We must see the sickest patients first to keep everyone safe. 


We Can Talk about how to keep you safe while you are staying in hospital with us. If you are not feeling safe, then please let us know. 

We Can Talk to you about different distraction and relaxation techniques you can use to help you manage the challenges of being in hospital.

We Can Talk in another way that might work better for you, by writing, drawing, using signs and pictures etc. If you think this would help, please let us know. 

Sometimes we may also have side rooms available if being in the main waiting room is too difficult or noisy for you. Please ask a member of the team if this would help you.

It may be necessary to have someone sit with you whilst you wait to keep you safe. This may include:

  • A member of your family or a friend/carer 
  • A member of our nursing team 
  • A specialist registered mental health nurse (RMN) 
  • A member of our security team 
  • A member of the police 

Step four: Assessment and treatment 

After triage, you will either be seen by one or more of the following people: 

  • An emergency medicine doctor or advanced nurse practitioner 
  • A paediatric doctor 
  • A psychiatric doctor or mental health nurse specialist from the child and adolescent mental health team (CAMHS) 

These doctors and nurses will aim to understand your or your carers’ concerns and what we can do to help (your treatment plan.) We want you to be involved in your treatment plan so do tell us anything that you think would help or other things that may have worked well in the past. 

After the assessment, if the doctors and nurses feel you can continue your treatment at home with a safety plan this is what we will try to arrange with you and your family/carer. 


We Can Talk in private and will always talk with you about information that needs to be 

If you are going home from the emergency department, we can also provide you and your family with emergency contact numbers to call for advice in case things get worse. We will also provide you with details of helpful places to access additional information and support about your mental health.

Step five: Further support 

The doctors and nurses may decide that you need to stay in hospital for further assessments, support, or treatment. We will discuss this with you and explain any extra observations or supervision that will be needed to help keep you safe. 


We Can Talk about how to manage the challenges of being in hospital and how to keep you safe. If you are not feeling safe, then please let one of our team know.

This leaflet has been produced with thanks to the We Can Talk team. The We Can Talk team is led by Healthy Teen Minds working with more than 50 NHS trusts to improve staff knowledge, skills, and confidence in supporting young people in mental health crisis.