OBJECTIVE: This study describes the existence and nature of services within state child and adult mental health systems that support the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
METHODS: State child and adult mental health administrators from all but one state were interviewed by telephone with a semistructured questionnaire regarding transition services in their state mental health system, such as supported housing, vocational support, preparation for independent living, and dual diagnosis treatment. Eight states were deemed sufficiently decentralized to render state-level administrator reports invalid. Specific service data from the remaining 41 states and the District of Columbia were analyzed with descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: One-quarter of child state mental health systems and one-half of adult state mental health systems offered no transition services, and few provided any kind of transition service at more than one site. Most types of transition services were available at all in less than 20 percent of the states.
CONCLUSIONS: Across the United States transition support services are lacking. The adult system in particular will require major transformation to provide the service capacity that is needed to meet the current standards of transition service accessibility for young Americans with serious mental health conditions.