Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in children and young adults ages 10-24.

One out of five children suffers from a mental health condition. That’s more than 150,000 children in Orange County alone. Chances are someone you know, or even someone in your family, is affected. The stories of courageous children battling cancer, diabetes and asthma are familiar, yet mental illness is a crisis often shrouded in social stigma and misconceptions.

Health Is Health: Our Vision for Pediatric Mental Health Treatment

The CHOC vision for a mental health system of care recognizes and addresses the unmistakable link between mental and physical health. Without early identification and treatment, children who are anxious, depressed, withdrawn, experiencing hallucinations, harming family members and pets, or injuring themselves are unlikely to escape long-term impacts on their health and well-being.

A reliable mental health system of care has the potential to turn lives around—providing services that reach children while the developing brain still has the greatest potential to respond. Further, treating children early can also have a major effect on the adult mental health crisis.

Join us in our effort to ensure every child and young adult in Orange County has access to mental health treatment without stigma or barriers.

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Community Mental Health Resources for Your Child

Children playing in the ocean waves

We serve children and teens with a wide variety of behavioral and mental health needs. We strive to be a strong and consistent voice for the improvement of children’s mental health services in California, and we are not alone. We have compiled this list of helpful resources to help your family find additional services in your community.


  • If this is a life-threatening emergency:
    Dial 911
  • Crisis Text Line:
    741-741, text HOME to 741741. Free text support for people in crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Didi Hirsch Suicide Crisis Hotline:
    Crisis prevention hotline, over-the-phone suicide prevention services.
    Available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Assessment Team (CAT):
    1-866-830-6011 or 1-714-517-6353
    Crisis evaluation for children and adults. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    CAT / PERT Program or
    Crisis Services


  • Please refer to the back of the patient’s insurance card for the mental health referral phone number/process.


Mild-Moderate Services needed

  • CalOptima Behavioral Health:
    Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for members seeking outpatient mental health services.

Moderate-Severe Services needed

  • OC Links:
    1-855-OC-Links or 1-855-625-4657
    Provides telephone and online support for anyone seeking information or linkage to any of the Health Care Agency’s Behavioral HealthServices.
  • Orange County Mental Health Plan Access Line:
    Specialty mental health and/or substance use services. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA):
    Behavioral Health Services
    Information on county resources.

Learn How to Start the Conversation About Mental Health

Let's talk about it


Just like adults, kids and teens can have mental health conditions. And just like adults, their conditions are often brushed aside or shrouded in stigma. By talking about it, you can increase awareness of the services that are needed and help children heal. Get tips on how to talk to adults and kids about mental health.

Mother and daughter talking

CHOC’s Role in Tackling the Pediatric Mental Health Crisis

CHOC is spearheading a countywide initiative to break the stigma surrounding pediatric mental illness and expand much-needed services. Half of children with symptoms of mental health disorders have conditions that cause significant impairment in daily life. In Orange County, 20 percent of youth reported needing help for mental health problems, while less than a third actually received that help.

Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center

Designed for patients ages 3 to 17, it is the only center in Orange County that can accommodate children younger than 12. The 18-bed Center opened in April 2018. The majority of funding is from private sources.

Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC

This intervention (four afternoons/evenings per week for eight weeks) is intended to prevent psychiatric hospitalization and re-admission in high school teens. CHOC opened the IOP in early 2018.

Mental health screenings in primary care settings and the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Hospital

One-third of all visits to pediatricians are solely for psychological reasons. To support immediate assessment and intervention in primary care, CHOC is providing depression screenings in its own clinics and promoting embedded mental health care in pediatric practices. We also provide depression screenings in the CHOC emergency department.

Pediatric mental health training program

Started in early 2017, this three-year effort provides pediatric mental health training for pediatricians and other community health care providers, as well as school personnel and therapists. At the same time, CHOC is also working to build a workforce capable of treating children and teens at the highest risk of developing mental health problems – those with serious or chronic physical health challenges.

CHOC co-occurring clinic

In its second year of operation, this unique, publicly-funded outpatient program treats children and teens who have mental health challenges in addition to serious or chronic physical illnesses or disabilities.

Mental health triage at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Hospital

Implemented in fall 2016 with public and private funds, the innovative family-based crisis intervention model helps families address mental health crises and is already reducing psychiatric hospitalizations (25 percent reduction) and time spent in the emergency department (17 percent reduction).

Expanded mental health screenings and access to care in CHOC specialty clinics

CHOC is working to increase access to mental health resources and treatment for children with chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, eating disorders and diabetes. CHOC is also seeking support to assist patients in its new clinic for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

Early childhood mental health initiative

This community partnership aims to reduce behavior-related expulsions from child care and preschool settings. Consultants will help providers address difficult behaviors, and help parents access care for young children who may exhibit early signs of a mental health condition. Partners include CHOC, Children’s Home Society, Orange County Department of Education, Orange County Health Care Agency, Children and Families Commission of Orange County, California State University, Fullerton, Comfort Connections Family Resource Center at Regional Center, Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children, and The Olin Group. Phase 1 begins in late spring 2018.

Faith community partnerships

Because families often seek help from pastors first, CHOC and faith community partners will provide basic pediatric mental health information and educational opportunities suitable for any congregation through a privately-funded project called LEAP of Faith.

Mental Health by the Numbers

Pediatric and Young Adult Mental Health graphic

Teens and mental health

CHOC Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Program for Teens

CHOC offers teenagers experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition a new source of a hope in a validating, supportive environment staffed by experts in adolescent mental health. The Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC brings solutions to teens and their families who show moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems.

High-school aged participants attend after-school programming for three hours a day, four days a week in sessions that span eight weeks total. Get more information about the CHOC Intensive Outpatient Program.