Moving Into Adulthood Resource Center

Updated March 2015


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 Talking To Kids About Mental Illnesses

When To Seek Help For Your Child

Where To Find Help For Your Child

Transitioning from High School to College with a Psychiatric Diagnosis: Preparation

Starting College with a Psychiatric Illness

College Students with ADHD

Understanding Your Mental Health Insurance

Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents

Self-Injury in Adolescents

Teen Suicide

Preventing Misuse and Diversion of Medication

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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

AACAP Practice Parameters

Considered resources for mental health professionals and physicians, AACAP’s practice parameters were developed to guide clinical and treatment decision-making. They represent the best treatment options available to individuals and families living mental illness.

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.


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

Mental Health Care in the College Community
Kay, J. & Schwartz, V. (2010)

Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Practice in College Mental Health
Cooper, S. (2005)

The Virginia Tech Massacre: Strategies and Challenges for Improving Mental Health Policy on Campus and Beyond
Sood, A. & Cohen, R. (2014)

Other Resources

Tips for teens graduating from high school (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Resources for college and career readiness from the National High School Center

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Research and Training

Scientific Articles and Information

Copeland, W.E., et al (2014)
Longitudinal Patterns of Anxiety from Childhood to Adulthood: The Great Smoky Mountains Study. JAACAP 53(1): 21-33.

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

Roux, A.M., et al (2013)
Postsecondary Employment Experiences Among Young Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. JAACAP 52(9): 931-939.

Derenne, J. (2013)
Successfully Launching Adolescents with Eating Disorders to College. JAACAP 52 (6): 559-561.

Howlin, P., et al (2013)
Social Outcomes in Adults with Autism.JAACAP 52 (6): 572-581.

Ramos, M.A., et al (2013)
Does Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Predict Risk-Taking and Medical Illnesses in Adulthood? JAACAP 52(2): 153-162.

Copeland, W.E., et al (2011)
Cumulative Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders by Young Adulthood: A Prospective Cohort Analysis From the Great Smoky Mountains Study. JAACAP 50(3): 252-261.

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Binge: What Your College Student Won’t Tell You
Seaman, B. (2007)

Chasing the High
Keegan, K. & Moss, H. (2008)

College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It
Kadison, R. & DiGeronimo, T. (2005)

Look Me in the Eye
Robinson, J.E. (2007)

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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.

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 - Support for transitioning from pediatric to adult health care

Heading to College:

  • The Transition Year - Help with getting prepared for going to college for both students and parents
  • College Guide for Students with Disabilities - Guidance for transitioning to college with a disability, including a college readiness checklist on pages 20-21
  • Active Minds - Peer support for students on campuses nationwide. Goals of reducing the stigma and educating others around mental health issues
  • NAMI on Campus - Student led mental health awareness and advocacy

Heading to Work:

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