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

October 3, 2012, New York University

(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

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

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.