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

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
After a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips.

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

September 20, 2017
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

Tablets can teach kids to solve physical puzzles

September 20, 2017
Researchers confirm that when 4-6 year old children learn how to solve a puzzle using a touchscreen tablet, they can then apply this learning to the same puzzle in the physical world. This contradicts most previous research ...

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.