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Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center is an inpatient psychiatric center exclusively dedicated to the treatment of children ages 3-17 with mental illness who are in immediate risk of hurting themselves or others. It is the only inpatient facility in Orange County that can treat patients younger than 10. Our doctors and care team are all specially trained to treat children and provide the very best patient- and family-centered care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If your child is in immediate risk of suicide or harming others, please go to your local hospital emergency department, the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC, or contact your local emergency evaluation team. All admissions to the Mental Health Inpatient Center are arranged through a hospital emergency department, if space is available. There is no direct admission to the Center.

Admitting Your Child for Inpatient Mental Health Care

There are a range of services for children and teens experiencing a mental health crisis. The Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center provides treatment for children at imminent risk of suicide or harming others. For children and teens who are not in immediate risk of harming themselves or others and who need mental health services, there are many other types of treatment that can provide help.

Get emergency and community mental health resources for your child here.

Children’s Inpatient Mental Health Facilities

Medical staff in the mental health inpatient unitThe Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center is the first pediatric, inpatient mental health facility in Orange County for children 3 to 17 years old and is designed to meet the unique needs of kids and teens. The Center has 18 private rooms, an outdoor playground and multipurpose areas for consultation, therapy, recreation and treatment. It’s also the only inpatient psychiatric facility in California where parents can stay in the rooms with their children. During your child’s stay, he or she will engage in daily multidisciplinary therapeutic groups and receive individual therapy, family therapy, brief psychological testing and psychiatric care. The Center includes:

Private rooms

Consistent with best practice, each patient will have his or her own bedroom, although he or she will spend little time there except to sleep. Patients will be actively engaged in therapeutic activities for the duration of the stay, typically five to seven days.

Parent overnight stays

When appropriate, a parent can stay overnight with their child. This feature is unique in California.

Active parent engagement

CHOC staff will work with parents to develop post-discharge treatment plans and help them learn new skills to manage their children’s behavior.

Mental Health Inpatient Treatments & Services at CHOC

Seven-day Mental Health Program

CHOC provides the full complete programming seven days per week. In most centers, there is little therapeutic activity on the weekends.

Multidisciplinary Mental Health Treatment

  • Certified child life specialists – will be available to help reduce the stress of hospitalization and provide opportunities for creativity and self-expression. In addition, art and music therapy will be offered.
  • Specially trained nurses and behavioral specialists – provide individual and group care.
  • Social workers trained in mental health – provide group, family and individual therapy, and a comprehensive discharge plan.
  • Psychiatrists – all have expertise with children and adolescents and provide evaluation and treatment.
  • Psychologists – provide brief assessments and treatment.

Sleep Studies & Other Medical Services

If assessments suggest a relationship between the mental health condition and an underlying health issue, CHOC can perform appropriate evaluations. For example, studies in CHOC’s accredited Sleep Center can help to identify a correlation between a patient’s depression and sleep disturbances.

Integrative Health: Holistic Medicine

CHOC has a long history of providing complementary medicine. Non-traditional but evidence-based therapies, such as mindfulness, exercise and other physical activities, will be available, as appropriate, to patients in the Center.

Stimulation & Calming Strategies

The Center design includes rooms that can provide sensory stimulation or low stimulation, depending on a patient’s condition and needs; including managing stress or calming anxiety as a way of helping children learn to best manage their conditions.

Physical Fitness & Nutrition Program

Physical fitness activities will support overall wellness and will be used as a strategy to reduce anxiety and other symptoms. Weekly nutrition classes will also be offered.

Inpatient Mental Health Care Admitting Process

Initial psychometric assessments

Upon admission to the Center, patients may have a psychological screening to improve diagnosis and treatment planning.

After-care and discharge services

Hospitalization serves as a place to stabilize a potentially life-threatening crisis and keep your child safe. After hospitalization, a comprehensive after-care plan is necessary to maintain gains and to continue improvement. After-care planning begins early in the hospital stay – including connections to outpatient therapy, schools, primary medical care, support groups, parent/family assistance, and other community resources – to ensure that the patient has strong post-discharge support. When appropriate, the patient will have access to CHOC services, such as the Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC and the co-occurring clinic. CHOC’s strong community relationships will also allow for successful care planning, such as a collaboration with the County of Orange Behavioral Health Services and UC Irvine Health Psychiatry.

Guide: Your Child’s Stay at the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center

Mental Health Experinece Guide

While your child is in the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center, we will work closely with you to create a nurturing experience and compassionate environment while providing psychiatric care for your child.

Your presence in the hospital is very important to us. We are here to answer your questions and help you play a role in your child’s experience.

This guide is designed to provide you with all the information you need while at the Mental Health Inpatient Center, including information about getting oriented to the hospital environment, what to expect during your stay, a comprehensive list of hospital services and resources, and how to plan for discharge.

Community Mental Health Resources for Your Child

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:
  • 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.