OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Pediatric experts in Oklahoma say there is a children’s behavioral health crisis right now – and they’re doing all they can to help them in their time of need.

At Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, OU Health is providing more calming rooms in their E.R. for these kids in their time of need.

“In an emergency department, things are busy, things are loud,” said Erin Walker, Associate Vice President of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. “There’s not a lot of privacy in a lot of situations and so this room provides them a safe environment to begin their healing journey.”

Tucked away inside the emergency department at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital are two places of peace.

“You know, anybody in a mental health crisis, you’re wanting help,” said Robyn Cowperthwaite, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. “You’re trying to kind of slow down, get a good evaluation and understand what’s really happening.”

The calm and quiet area helps address a growing problem for Oklahoma children and adolescents.

“The trends in Oklahoma have just been increasing and increasing in terms of crisis mental health needs,” Cowperthwaite said. “That’s been over the last ten years or so – and then since the pandemic, it’s increased dramatically.”

OU Health representatives say Children’s is only one of two hospitals to offer Ambient Experience Behavior Health rooms in the country – adding that there is a huge shortage of mental health beds in the state of Oklahoma.

“So sometimes people are in our emergency room much longer than we would like them to be,” said Cowperthwaite. “So if they’re here for 24 hours or 36 hours or longer in our emergency room, we can have relaxing scenes, you know, in the evening as it’s time to relax and go to sleep ad we can also have stimulating things on the day when bored.”

There’s even games the kids can play right here in their room.

“We’re just excited to have something to offer to make the stay here more pleasant for everybody,” said Cowperthwaite. 

The rooms can also be used to help soothe children who have suffered traumatic injuries.

They help calm families, as well.