Mental Health Needs

Youth with mental health needs often face unemployment, underemployment, and discrimination when they enter the workforce. Employment data show that individuals with serious mental illness have the lowest level of employment of any group of people with disabilities. The following provides practical information and resources for youth service practitioners. In addition, it provides policymakers, from the program to the state level, with information to help them address system and policy obstacles in order to improve service delivery systems for youth with mental health needs.

About Youth with Mental Health Needs

Youth with mental health needs (MHN) often face unemployment, underemployment, and discrimination when they enter the workforce. Employment data show that individuals with serious mental illness have the lowest level of employment of any group of people with disabilities. As a result, large numbers of youth with both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health needs who are transitioning into young adulthood, to the world of work, and to postsecondary education are likely to experience significant difficulties. Learn more about Facts & Statistics, Common Challenges, Guideposts for Success, NCWD/Youth Resources and Related Resources pertaining to youth with mental health needs.

Guideposts for Success for Youth with Mental Health Needs

The Guideposts for Success for Youth with Mental Health Needs are particularly helpful for youth service practitioners serving youth with MHN. Youth with mental health needs may not be properly diagnosed, if they are diagnosed at all, especially during the teenage years when it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between (1) a mental health issue; (2) typical anxiety experienced by youth, particularly if those feelings are not behaviorally expressed; and (3) substance abuse, which may be a secondary issue that many youth with mental health needs may experience.

Helping Youth with Mental Health Needs Avoid Transition Cliffs: Lessons from Pioneering Transition Programs

This InfoBrief discusses challenges faced by youth and young adults with mental health needs during their transition to adulthood and describes strategies used by youth service professionals to avoid age-related transition cliffs and prevent service interruptions during this critical stage of development. This InfoBrief is based on a rich body of research about transition-age youth with mental health needs published in four separate reports in the last two years, including two produced by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.

Navigating Tunnels and Cliffs: Empowering Families and Caregivers to Assist Youth with Mental Health Needs in Preparing for Work

For many families and caregivers of youth with mental health needs, career preparation and exploration are not top priorities. This short cut provides families, caregivers, and youth with mental health needs the information needed to prepare for a career including promising practices from the field and an action plan for success.

Successful Transition Models for Youth with Mental Health Needs: A Guide for Workforce Professionals

This InfoBrief describes the systems’ service barriers faced by youth with mental health needs as they reach adulthood, while highlighting new models and strategies designed to break down those barriers and help them to transition successfully into the workplace.

Supporting Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Mental Health Needs: Action Steps for Policymakers

This Policy Brief calls attention to the challenges faced by youth and young adults with mental health needs during their transition to adulthood and provides information to help policymakers at the state and local level develop and improve service delivery systems for this population.

Transitioning Youth with Mental Health Needs to Meaningful Employment and Independent Living

This study focuses on the role of skills development, work, and career exploration. It presents the findings from case studies of five promising program sites and identifies program design features and system-level policies that appear to help youth and young adults with mental health needs better transition into adulthood and life-long success.

Tunnels and Cliffs: A Guide for Workforce Development Professionals and Policymakers serving Youth with Mental Health Needs

This guide is designed to help workforce development professionals, administrators, and policymakers increase their understanding of youth with mental health needs and the supports necessary to help them transition into the workforce successfully. it provides practical information and resources for youth service professionals on how to support these youth and information for policy makers on how to address system and policy obstacles in order to improve service delivery systems for youth with mental health needs.

Tunnels and Cliffs: A Guide for Workforce Development Professionals and Policymakers Serving Youth with Mental Health Needs (Short Cut)

This brief document summarizes the challenges faced by youth with mental health needs when they enter inappropriate service tunnels dictated by their point of entry and when they encounter transition cliffs as they age out of youth systems and attempt to access adult services. It offers examples of emerging promising practices related to career preparation and employment for youth and offers an action plan to make the coordination of services a cross-systems priority.

Youth Development and Leadership Opportunities to Develop Thriving Competencies

This Innovative Strategies Practice Brief provides practical examples from promising and exemplary youth programs for implementing youth development and leadership opportunities that help youth develop Thriving competencies. Thriving is the youth development competency area that involves developing attitudes, skills, and behaviors that youth need to maintain their optimal physical and emotional well-being.

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