The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a challenging time. It is a time in which the young person is called upon to make complex decisions about schooling, work, finances, and personal relationships. For the more than three million young adults ages 18-26 diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, this phase of life poses even greater challenges.
Youth with mental health needs often face unemployment, underemployment, and discrimination when they enter the workforce. Statistics show that youth with mental health needs, diagnosed or undiagnosed, are over-represented in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and among school disciplinary cases and high school dropouts.
The absence of a coordinated system of service delivery also presents significant challenges for youth and young adults with mental health needs as they age out of youth services. They may be either shunted down an inappropriate service tunnel that does not address their specific needs, or they may “fall off a cliff” as they age out of youth services and have to navigate the complexities associated with the adult service system. Through partnerships with service agencies and organizations in their communities youth service professionals can assist youth in preparing for the adult world. This InfoBrief presents model programs and successful strategies to help youth and young adults with mental health needs successfully transition to employment and to lead independent, productive lives.