Maltreated Young Adults Not Receiving Needed Mental Health Services

by August 7, 2009 0 comments

Mental health problems among young adults suspected of being maltreated as youths often go untreated as they transition to adulthood, according to a study by researchers at RTI International. The study, published in the August issue of Psychiatric Services, found that more than 48 percent of young adults suspected of being maltreated as youths had indicators of mental health problems. But the study showed that among those young adults with mental health problems, less than a quarter of them used outpatient mental health services.

“The results show the strong need for ‘transition’ services beginning in adolescence and continuing through young adulthood,” said Heather Ringeisen, Ph.D., a senior research psychologist at RTI and the study’s lead author. “Young adults need services to help facilitate development into adulthood and support transition from child- to adult-oriented mental health services.”

The study looked at more than 600 young adults selected from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children for whom maltreatment was investigated by the child welfare system.

The researchers found that there was a significant decrease in the use of specialty mental health services as adolescence transitioned to young adulthood, declining from 47.6 percent to 14.3 percent.

The researchers also found that young adults without Medicaid insurance and nonwhites were even less likely to use outpatient mental health services.
“Interventions to improve access to mental health services for this vulnerable population should particularly support outreach and engagement of young adults who are uninsured and from racial or ethnic minority groups with a history of involvement with the child welfare system,” Ringeisen said.

The study was funded by the Administration of Children and Families (ACF).

About RTI International
RTI International is one of the world s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. Our staff of more than 2,800 provides research and technical expertise to governments and businesses in more than 40 countries in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, international development, economic and social policy, energy and the environment, and laboratory and chemistry services. For more information, visit

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