Adolescent Behavioral Health

The Pediatric Behavioral Health Unit at Kentucky Children's Hospital, located in Lexington, Ky, is a 17-bed inpatient program that offers a personal, structured environment for adolescents with mental illness or behavioral health problems. The following information provides an overview of our program and answers many of the questions you may have. The unit’s team of psychiatrists, nurses and staff work together to identify the cause of the behavioral problems and provide treatment.

UK Adolescent Behavioral Health is the only facility in the Bluegrass region that has patient safety companions on the unit at all times. The safety companions provide a safe and secure environment for the patient’s recovery. They are also trained to monitor at-risk patients who need constant one-on-one supervision. Patient treatment and safety are our main concerns. We are here to give you peace of mind.

Patient appointments

Request an outpatient appointment via our online form. Patients with behavioral health emergencies should be seen and evaluated at the Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Room at Kentucky Children’s Hospital Chandler Medical Center.


Health care providers, please visit our referral page to refer your patient to this service.

Who we treat

We admit and treat children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 17 who are experiencing mental illnesses and behavioral issues, such as:

  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Self-harm/suicidal thoughts
  • Gender identity
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Bullying victims


Group sessions: Group sessions led by nurses, therapists, social workers and mental health associates are held multiple times a day. These sessions are a safe environment where patients can freely express themselves. By talking and listening to others, patients learn to be empathetic and discover that they are not alone in their struggles. Working with the staff, patients set and work to achieve personal goals by the end of the day. The lessons and coping mechanisms learned in group can benefit the patient for the rest of their life. Please respect that what is discussed in the group sessions is private.

Recreation therapy: Recreation therapy is a time for patients to participate in health leisure activities. During this time, patients can listen to music, paint, color, compete in Ping-Pong or air hockey, draw, or play video games. Recreation therapy gives patients the tools to express themselves creatively and open up to face their issues. There are two recreational therapy sessions every day: a morning and afternoon session. Based on the patient’s behavior, a third session is rewarded in the evenings before showering and bedtime. 

Music therapy: Held on Friday mornings, music therapists from the Arts in HealthCare department aid in the treatment of patients. The music therapists use music-based techniques to address individual goals, promote wellness, manage stress, express feelings, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.

Pet therapy: Held on Friday afternoons, a volunteer pet therapist brings therapy dogs to visit with the patients. Connections are often formed between the animals and patients, which helps build confidence and desire to get better. But most important, it is fun.

Individual sessions: Patients meet with their psychiatrist daily. Some patients have more individual sessions depending on their needs and behaviors. In the individual sessions, the psychiatrist is able to identify the patient's core behavioral issues, determine what treatments are most effective and gauge the patient’s progress.

Family session: A family session is scheduled within the first 24-48 hours of the patient’s admittance. A social worker will call to work out a time that is the most convenient for you.

Quiet/Free time: Three times a day, patients are given quiet/free time. During these periods, patients can read, nap, do homework, journal and socialize with the staff and their fellow patients.

School session: Fayette County schools provide a full-time teacher for adolescents who stay on the unit more than five days. The teacher works with each patient twice a week to stay on track with school and homework.

Spiritual group (optional): Every evening, patients have the option to meet with the staff chaplain. UK Adolescent Behavioral Health is the only inpatient facility in Lexington that has a chaplain on staff.  The chaplain’s role is to support the patient spiritually and emotionally while in the hospital, regardless of faith or religious affiliation. When a patient is treated in our facility, they are given mental, physical and spiritual care.

Treatment team

The UK Adolescent Behavioral Health team is a multidisciplinary group of health care providers which may include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychiatric residents
  • Pediatric fellows
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • A psychologist
  • Certified therapeutic recreation specialists
  • A Fayette County Public School teacher
  • Registered nurses

Support staff:

  • Music therapists
  • A pet therapist
  • A pharmacist
  • Mental health associates
  • A chaplain
  • Patient safety companions


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