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Clinical Social Work Practice with Former System Youth with Mental Health Needs: Perspective of Those in Need

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The purpose of this study is to describe the types of programs and mental health services former system youth with mental health histories would be inclined to engage in to manage their mental health difficulties, along with the factors that might hinder them from engaging in these services. A series of closed and open-ended questions on potential programs and services were asked, as part of a larger study. Participants were former system youth; specifically 18–30 year olds who were diagnosed with a mood disorder and were involved with public mental health and social services (e.g., public welfare, child welfare, juvenile justice) during childhood. Responses to the open-ended questions were categorized and percentages are reported from the yes/no items. Eighty-three percent and 76% reported that they would be enticed to come to a support group and panel discussion on mood disorders, respectively, while only 46% reported that they would attend a family support group. Talking with others who have had similar experiences, material possessions and creative expression were the most common responses regarding what would entice them to get involved. Further, peer disrespect, transportation, and daycare were common barriers to potential participation. As the field continues to build knowledge on system-wide strategies to improve agency-based mental health care for transitioning youth and young adults, new evidence-based approaches may benefit from listening to the specific needs, preferences, and suggestions of these youth themselves.

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Correspondence to Michelle R. Munson.

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Munson, M.R., Lox, J.A. Clinical Social Work Practice with Former System Youth with Mental Health Needs: Perspective of Those in Need. Clin Soc Work J 40, 255–260 (2012).

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