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Child and Youth Mental Health Day Treatment

Child and Youth Mental Health Day Treatment (located in 3G) is part of the Child and Youth Mental Health Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital and provides treatment, education and support to young people and families whose lives have been affected by mental health issues.

We will work closely with you and your child to design a program to meet your goals. The program will take place on weekdays, so your child will not stay overnight in the hospital.

This program is voluntary. Your child will choose to participate and make a commitment to work with us towards your goals.

Care We Provide

Your child’s Day Treatment Program will involve activities that help them to reach their goals. Your child will be asked to take part in:

  • treatment groups
  • functional activity groups
  • individual and family support

Your child may benefit from attending treatment groups such as:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
  • Goal-Setting
  • Social Skills
  • Stress/Transition Management
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Relaxation
  • Process
  • Health
  • Returning to School

Your child may be involved in daily activities such as:

  • arts and crafts
  • board games
  • indoor or outdoor physical activity
  • cooking

Some activities such as walks will involve leaving the hospital and going out into the community.

We do not provide emergency care after hours. If you need help when the Day Treatment is closed, you have the following options:

  • call your family doctor
  • call your local crisis team. In Hamilton, call COAST at (905) 972-8338
  • go to the hospital emergency department
  • call 911

What to Expect

Checking Belongings

When your child arrives each day, they will check in and secure their bags in a personal locker. At times, our staff may ask to look into bags and any items to make sure we are maintaining a safe environment.

Working with the Day Treatment Team

As part the introduction to the program, team members will talk with you and your child to better understand how we can help.

The Day Treatment team members will act as your child’s ‘coach’. They will work with your child throughout their treatment program.

The Day Treatment team is committed to helping your child:

  • understand what led to your child’s referral
  • identify goals to work towards
  • learn and apply skills that help your child achieve their goals

Before starting the Day Treatment Program, your child will be expected to attend an orientation session to learn about Day Treatment. You will also attend a screening appointment where your child will be invited to share important information about themselves with the team. This will help our team better understand why your child was referred to Day Treatment.

Setting Goals

Day Treatment staff will help your child identify goals to work towards on their journey. These established goals will guide their treatment program. Your child will also set daily goals for activities they would like to begin doing again, or improve upon (when they are managing their symptoms more effectively).

Learning Skills

Day Treatment staff will help your child:

  • identify skills that can help prevent and manage difficulties in the future
  • learn and practice new skills
  • apply these skills to work towards your goals
  • understand how to apply these skills in life outside of Day Treatment

What to Bring

Please bring:

  • your child’s Health Card
  • any medications that your child normally takes during the day
  • clothing that is suitable for walking and outdoor activities

Please do not bring valuable personal items such as money, jewelry or electronics. We are not responsible for lost or stolen items.

If your child chooses to bring in any of the following items, they must be kept in their locker during the day:

  • communication devices such as cell phones, Ipads and computers
  • cameras and recording devices
  • cigarettes and lighters (smoking is not permitted on hospital grounds)


How long will I be at Day Treatment?

How long your child attends Day Treatment will depend on their goals and progress. Most patients take part in Day Treatment for about four weeks. Some go on to attend a two-week Return to School Program with us. During the Day Treatment Program, they may continue with some out-patient services in their community.

Who will be involved in my child’s care?

A team of health care providers and support staff will work closely with you/your child. Depending on your child’s needs, they may work with:

  • Child and Youth Workers
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Teachers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists

Can my child have visitors in Day Treatment?

Your child will attend programs during the day so there is no opportunity to have visitors.

Is transportation provided?

We do not provide transportation to Day Treatment, this is your family’s responsibility. If it is difficult to get to Day Treatment, please talk with us. If you/your child live in the Hamilton area, some help may be available from your school board. Please note that school board transportation is not available during all PD days, school holidays and summer holidays (July and August).

Where can my child get dropped off or park?

You can pick up or drop off your child at the front entrance to the hospital (Main Street) to get to Day Treatment.

Underground parking is available at McMaster Children’s Hospital. If you park each day, you can buy a long term pass at a discounted rate from the Parking Office. For more information read Parking at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Are meals provided?

Lunch and afternoon snacks are provided for all patients in Day Treatment. We will provide a morning snack if you are unable to eat breakfast before coming to Day Treatment. If you prefer, your child can bring their own lunch.

What if my child needs to take medication?

Day Treatment staff needs to be aware of all medications that your child takes, especially medications they take while at Day Treatment. On your child’s first day, we will fill out a record of their medications. Please let us know when there are any changes to your child’s medications, so we can keep our records up to date. Please note we do not provide medications.

Each day, ensure your child brings the medications they need to take. When they arrive and check in, have them place their medications in their locker. When it is time to take their medication, please have them do so. If they need to have reminders, please inform our staff.

What about my school work?

Our team includes a teacher from the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. The teacher will work with your child and their school to plan how they can continue their school work at their own pace while they are at Day Treatment. We will ask for you and your child’s permission to:

  • send a letter to their principal explaining why they are not at school
  • speak with the school to better understand your child and plan their return to school

Who do I call if my child is sick, going to be late or absent?

If your child is going to be late or unable to attend Day Treatment, please call Day Treatment at (905) 521-2100, ext 72831. If your child is not feeling well, or has a cough or fever, please call before coming to Day Treatment. The nurse will call you back and help you decide if your child should come to Day Treatment or stay home.

What if the weather is bad?

Please use your judgment when traveling to Day Treatment in snowy, slippery or unsafe conditions. If your child uses school board transportation, please be prepared for them to be sent home if the schools close early. If driving conditions get worse throughout the day, we may need your child to go home early for their own safety. If you want to pick up your child early, please call and let us know.

Can my child make their own treatment decisions?

The hospital operates under the Health Care Consent Act. This Act states that a capable patient of any age can consent (agree) to a treatment. The consent of their parent or caregiver is not necessary. The health care team decides whether a patient is capable. Your child is capable of making a treatment decision if they can:

  • understand the information relevant to the treatment decision
  • understand the possible consequences of making the decision
  • tell us their decision

If the team finds your child incapable of making a specific treatment decision, then someone else (usually the parent or guardian) will be assigned to make the decision. This person is called a “substitute decision maker”.


How do you ensure safety at Day Treatment?

Everyone’s safety is important. We need to provide a safe environment, free from:

  • violence, aggression, self-harm, lying, racism, sexism and/or negative comments about sexual identity. We do not allow clothing or any items that support any of these ideas
  • bullying, threatening and verbal abuse
  • substances including alcohol and drugs (and the supplies related to drug use)

We have a policy that guides our response to these behaviours if they occur. Please talk to our staff right away if your child feels unsafe or thinks they might do something dangerous. Staff will help your child learn and use skills that will help.


We will protect the privacy of you and your child’s personal information. We will ask for your permission (consent) before sharing your child’s information with others.

  • If your child is capable, they have the right to keep their information private from anyone they choose, including their parents
  • If your child is not capable of giving consent, then we will look to a substitute decision maker for consent.

We also want all parents/caregivers to feel comfortable sharing their concerns with us. We will keep these concerns within your child’s care team, unless we have consent to share it. There are times, however, when we cannot maintain confidentiality. If we become aware of a situation in which a child/youth needs protection, we are required to report it to the appropriate authorities.

Those situations include:

  • if any child or youth under the age of 16 is being hurt or abused, or at risk of being hurt or abused
  • if anyone is in imminent danger of hurting themselves or someone else
  • if a regulated health professional is or has been sexually inappropriate with someone
  • if the courts ask for our records


Research is an important part of the work we do. Through research we learn how to best help children and teens with mental health needs. While in Day Treatment, we may ask if your child would like to be involved in current or future research. Whether or not your child wishes to take part in research is up to your child and your family. Your decision will not affect your child’s care in any way.