Background

The issues faced by youth with psychiatric disabilities can be daunting. All through the research, there seemed to be a broad consensus as to why this population has been neglected in public policy discussions. Throughout the report, there will be elaboration of many of the obstacles. Common themes include issues regarding the stigma of psychiatric disabilities, lack of accountability for the public system responding to the need of this age group, fragmentation in programs and funding streams, differing eligibility requirements and lack of coordination among the agencies working with this population.

The statistics on this population continue to make a compelling case as to the need for dedicated resources and programs for Youth-in-Transition with Psychiatric Disabilities.

Among the statistics:

  • There are over 2.4 million transition age youth (ages 18-26) who had serious mental illness in 2006. This is a low estimate given that institutionalized individuals were not included in the report. (Government Accountability Office [GAO] Study 2008)
  • Estimated 20% of youth receiving treatment for emotional or behavioral problems have either contemplated suicide or attempted suicide. (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Facts on Transitional Services for Youth with Mental Illnesses)
  • Over 60% of young adults with a serious mental illness were unable to complete high school (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Facts on Transitional Services for Youth with Mental Illnesses)
  • Adolescents transitioning to adult hood with a serious mental illness are three times more likely to be involved in criminal justice activity then adolescents without an illness (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Facts on Transitional Services for Youth with Mental Illnesses)
  • Youth-in-Transition are four times less likely to be engaged in any gainful activities including employment, enrollment in college or trade school (Oregon White Paper)
  • Seventy percent of youth involved with the juvenile justice system had at least one mental health disorder. (Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)

The hope of this report is to provide a list of resources and innovative projects that stakeholders can utilize to have productive discussions. Also, identified herein, are areas that New York can embrace to improve the lives of youth-in-transition (YIT) with psychiatric disabilities.