Former system youth with mental health needs: Routes to adult mental health care, insight, emotions, and mistrust
The purpose of this study was to explore mental health service utilization during the transition to adulthood among former system youth with mental health difficulties. Former system youth were defined as those with a history of using Medicaid-funded mental health services and at least one additional public system of care such as child welfare or juvenile justice. The authors conducted in-depth face-to-face interviews with 60 participants (18 to 25 years old) from one Midwestern state. Results show that few participants received continuous mental health care across the transition, with the majority experiencing interruptions or discontinuation of care. Important facilitators of service use included physicians, former caseworkers, and family members. Health clinics and parenting programs emerged as potential entrée points for reconnecting disengaged young adults to mental health services. Finally, insight, mistrust, and emotions emerged as novel factors associated with service utilization among young adults. The authors discuss the implications for future research. Modified Author Abstract.