Meeting the Developmental Needs of Young Adults Diagnosed with Serious Mental Health Challenges: the Emerge Model


Adult providers struggle to engage 18–25-year olds despite high rates of serious mental health challenges observed among this age group. A new model, called “Emerge,” combines the intensive outreach and multidisciplinary team-based approach used in Assertive Community Treatment with Positive Youth Development principles and practices used in the Transition to Independence Process Model. Emerge bridges youth and adult services, focuses on supporting transition-to-adulthood milestone achievement, and is a sister team to Coordinated Specialty Care for recent psychosis onset. This paper describes Emerge components, practices, and findings from a feasibility pilot study using agency administrative data. Most prevalent goals were employment and social support/relationship related. The majority made progress on individual goals, engaged in employment and education, and experienced decreased psychiatric hospitalizations. Community mental health policy and practice implications are discussed, including funding blending of evidence-based practices for those transitioning to adulthood with youth-onset serious mental health conditions.

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This study was funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) #90SF0008-01-00.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vanessa V. Klodnick PhD, LCSW.

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Conflict of Interest

Dr. Klodnick is the Thresholds Youth & Young Adult Services Director of Research & Innovation and completed her NIDILRR Switzer Research Fellowship at Thresholds. Dr. Klodnick is also a UT-Austin Texas Institute Excellence in Mental Health affiliate faculty. Candy Malina is the Senior Director of Clinical Practice who oversees Youth & Young Adult Service development and implementation. Dr. Fagan is a Vice President of Clinical Operations at Thresholds, overseeing Youth & Young Adult Services. Rebecca Johnson is an Evaluation Coordinator for Thresholds Youth & Young Adult Services Research & Evaluation. Ariel Brenits is an Evaluation Specialist for Thresholds Evaluation. Eva Zeidner is Emerge Assistant Program Director. Jose Viruet is the Emerge Program Director. We have no special interests to report.

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Klodnick, V.V., Malina, C., Fagan, M.A. et al. Meeting the Developmental Needs of Young Adults Diagnosed with Serious Mental Health Challenges: the Emerge Model. J Behav Health Serv Res 48, 77–92 (2021).

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  • Transition-age youth
  • Serious mental health conditions
  • Multidisciplinary team-based treatment
  • Community mental health
  • Program evaluation
  • Emerging adulthood