Most discontinue mental health services as they transition to adulthood, researchers find

October 3, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers at the Silver School of Social Work has found that among 60 young adults with a history of significant mental health difficulties, few used psychiatric services, medications, or other mental health services on a continuous basis as they transitioned to adulthood.

The qualitative study by associate professor Michelle Munson, professor James Jaccard, and fellow researchers in Georgia and Ohio sheds light on the problem of untreated mental illness among young adults nationwide, and adds to growing evidence that young people often discontinue mental health services when exiting child welfare, , mental health, and other publicly funded systems of care.

In the study, "Static, dynamic, integrated, and contextualized: A framework for understanding mental health service utilization among young adults," published in the journal , Jaccard, Munson and colleagues use in-depth, semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of people ages 18-25 in one Midwestern state, and the reasons why in most cases their engagement with mental health services turned sporadic or came to a stop.

By design, all 60 participants included in the study were struggling with continued mood and emotional difficulties and shared three —mood disorder diagnosis, use of public mental health services, and experience with social service systems.

Results showed that few of the were continuous service users during the transition to adulthood, with most either discontinuing services (42 percent) or showing single gaps in service use (22 percent) or multiple gaps (15 percent) as they moved from adolescence to adulthood—a juncture when young adults are solidifying their identity, making , and institutionally aging out of child social service systems. The reasons for not using services consistently ranged from participants' doubts about the efficacy of medication and concerns about their "image," to insurance barriers and long wait times for counseling and other types of assistance at overburdened social service agencies.

The study provides future researchers with a mid-level theory—an integrated and comprehensive framework for further research and understanding about the sporadic use of by young adults. The framework includes the dynamic nature of service use and a template of multi-level factors to consider at any one point in time.

Explore further: Blacks with higher education and prior treatment less likely to seek mental health care

Related Stories

Blacks with higher education and prior treatment less likely to seek mental health care

February 22, 2012
Young adult blacks, especially those with higher levels of education, are significantly less likely to seek mental health services than their white counterparts, according to a study published by the American Psychological ...

Reports of mental health disability increase in US

September 23, 2011
The prevalence of self-reported mental health disabilities increased in the U.S. among non-elderly adults during the last decade, according to a study by Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Recommended for you

Talking to yourself can help you control stressful emotions

July 26, 2017
The simple act of silently talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times may help you control emotions without any additional mental effort than what you would use for first-person self-talk – the way people ...

Heart rate study tests emotional impact of Shakespeare

July 26, 2017
In a world where on-screen violence has become commonplace, Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company is turning to science to discover whether the playwright can still make our hearts race more than 400 years on.

Do all people experience similar near-death-experiences?

July 26, 2017
No one really knows what happens when we die, but many people have stories to tell about what they experienced while being close to death. People who have had a near-death-experience usually report very rich and detailed ...

Risk for bipolar disorder associated with faster aging

July 26, 2017
New King's College London research suggests that people with a family history of bipolar disorder may 'age' more rapidly than those without a history of the disease.

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.