Moving Into Adulthood Resource Center

Updated March 2019


Child Abuse ImageYoung people moving from adolescence into young adulthood are defined as transitional age youth. New tasks often include: moving away from family, becoming independent, developing one's identity, and learning to handle more complex relationships. For this age group, handling these tasks while adjusting to the start of college and/or moving into the working world can be challenging.

Making this transition with mental health issues may lead to an existing problem getting worse or triggering new problems. The need for support and treatment can be very important, but other factors, such as misinformation about mental illness, not knowing where to go, and finding health insurance can make it difficult for people to get help.

Families can play a critical role in helping young people see they are having a problem and encouraging them to get help. Families can also help find the mental health resources on college campuses, at their place of work, or in their community. For those who are in treatment, it is helpful if plans are in place before they leave for college, start a job, or move out on their own. With the right support and treatment, transitional age youth with mental illnesses can succeed at becoming healthy, productive, successful, and independent adults.

Choose a topic:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What steps should you take to get ready for college or work if you have a mental health issue?
  2. How do you know when help is needed?
  3. How do you find mental health providers at college or nearby in the community?
  4. What are the rights of young adults in regard to keeping health care information confidential and the rights of parents in regard to getting health care information about their adult children?
  5. Are there tips that can help with being consistent with treatment, such as taking medication as recommended and/or keeping therapy appointments?
  6. What can be done when a young adult doesn't want help or doesn't think that they need help?

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Facts for Families

AACAP's Facts for Families provide concise up-to-date information about a variety of issues that affect children, adolescents and families. The following Facts for Families contain information that is especially pertinent to transitional age youth:

Child Abuse Image

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Video Clips

More "In Our Own Words" videos:

The information on this website should not be taken as medical advice, which can only be given to you by your personal health care professionals.

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Clinical Resources

Youth Tip Sheet

This Tip Sheet was developed to provide guidance for how child and adolescent psychiatrists can more effectively communicate and partner with young people.

Other Resources

Frequently Asked Questions for Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrists and Other Professionals Working with Transitional Age Youth with Substance use Disorders

Health Care Transition Readiness Assessments

Life Skills Assessments

College Readiness Assessments

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Research and Training

Scientific Articles and Information

Wilens, T. & Rosenbaum, J. (2013)
Transitional Aged Youth: A New Frontier in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
JAACAP 52(9): 887-890.

Psychiatric Training and Clinical Care for College Mental Health
This 2015 special issue of Academic Psychiatry, volume 39(5), describes preparation and training of the college mental health workforce and the nuances of working within campus systems of care.

Transitional Age Youth and Mental Illness: Influences on Young Adult Outcomes
This 2017 volume of CHild and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, volume 26(2), aims to bridge the current state of knowledge about risk and resilience during the transition to adolescence fo ryoung people with mental illness with the need for developmentally-attuned and culturally-competent strategies to engage and maintain them in treatment.

McCabe, S.E., et al (2017)
Adolescents' Prescription Stimulant Use and Adult Functional Outcomes: A National Prospective Study.
JAACAP 56(3): 226-233

Han, B. et al (2018)
National Trends in the Prevalence of Suicidal Ideation and Behavior Among Young Adults and Receipt of Mental Health Care Among Suicidal Young Adults.
JAACAP 57(1): 20-26

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Books and Articles

A Financial Checklist for Your Newly Minted High School Graduate
Ron Lieber, New York Times (2019)

Mental Health Issues and the University Student
Iarovici, D. (2014)

The Virginia Tech Massacre: Strategies and Challenges for Improving Mental Health Policy on Campus and Beyond
Sood, A. & Cohen, R. (2015)

Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe
Shatkin, J. (2017)

Promoting Safe and Effective Transitions to College for Youth with Mental Health Conditions: A Case-Based Guide to Best Practices
Martel, A., Derenne, J., Leebens, P.K. (2018)

Promoting Successful Transition to Adulthood for Students with Disabilities
Morgan, R.L. & Riesen, T. (2016)

U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life)
Lerner, D. & Schlechter, A. (2017)

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Getting Help

Child Abuse ImageTaking control of your mental health and getting the help and support you need are among the most important things you can do on the road to becoming a successful adult. The support of family and friends can be a critical part of this process. Help is available in a number of different forms and from many sources.

  • If you’re in school, check your college’s website for information on student health and wellness, counseling services, and disability resources.
  • If you're at work, check what services are provided through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for problems that may impact your job performance, physical health, mental health, and emotional well-being
  • If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless and having thoughts of suicide, there are many sources of help and support:
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder

Related Websites

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Advocacy for access to services, treatment, and research for Americans affected by mental illness
  • Strength of Us - An online community created by NAMI specifically for young adults with mental illness to offer support and share resources
  • GotTransition - Information and tools for youth, families, health professionals, researchers, and policymakers to support and improve transition from pediatric to adult healthcare
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources - Hub of information and products for the network of Parent Centers serving families of children with disabilities - topics include college and career readiness and transition to adulthood

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