Mental Health Support for Students Transitioning to Adulthood in Florida

The transition from student life to adult life is challenging for all students. Additional barriers to overcome may be experienced by students with mental health difficulties. Young adults with mental health concerns, generally speaking, experience lower levels of educational attainment and independent living, while also experiencing higher levels of criminal activity, substance abuse, unemployment rates and pregnancy (Jivanjee, Kruzich & Gordon, 2008). The National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) found that youth with emotional disorders (ED) experienced a "mixed bag of transition experiences" in high school (Wagner et al, 1991). Ten years later, the second National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2) found similar results (Wagner & Cameto, 2004). 

NLTS2 found "increasingly rigorous course-taking in general education settings and increased services and supports to help students succeed, suggesting that students with ED may be better prepared to complete high school and to pursue postsecondary education" (Wagner & Cameto, 2004). However, students with ED also had higher rates of bullying, fighting, suspension, expulsion, and academic difficulties than their peers. Outside of school, students with ED held jobs and participated in organized extracurricular activities at about the same rate as their peers. They also had higher rates of informal friendships outside of school, which has been linked to higher rates of absenteeism, course failure and, ultimately, dropping out of high school. 

Locating support services for transitioning youth is essential for building a system that supports both the student and the family. The resources included below make finding appropriate services easier.

Bullying Prevention Resources

Bullying Prevention: 2015 Resource Guide (pdf)
The Bullying Prevention: 2015 Resource Guide provides extensive information and resources about bullying prevention. Contents include descriptions of organizations and websites; data, definitions, and research; programs, campaigns, and toolkits; policies, laws, and legislation; publications and resources; and information about at-risk populations as well as bullying and co-occurring issues.

Center for Safe Schools 
The Center for Safe Schools has been committed to serving as a statewide clearinghouse for schools, law enforcement, parents and others on school safety and youth violence prevention and is committed to preventing and reducing the incidents of bullying in schools through technical assistance, training, evaluation, and research.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013
This June 2014 report from the National Center for Education Statistics presents statistics on crime and safety at schools and on college campuses using data collected from students, teachers, principals, and postsecondary institutions, drawing from an array of sources. The report covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, the presence of security staff at school, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. 

PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center
Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) provides innovative resources for students, parents, educators, and others, and recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students.

Pearson Review 360 Behavior Matters
Review 360 Behavior Matters provides Special Education teachers with professional development, intervention strategies, guided implementation support, and highly configurable data-driven reporting to help support them as they improve classroom behavior.  The web-based system enhances communication between General Education and Special Education teachers for students who are in both settings.  

Preventing and Handling Bullying of Students With Significant Cognitive Disabilities Schoolwide
This blog post from Review 360 Behavior Matters highlights some recommendations for avoiding bullying schoolwide and in the classroom.
Managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information from various government agencies on bullying, including cyberbullying, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.

Additional Resources

Council for Exceptional Children Resources
Enter "emotional and behavioral disorders" in the search box to generate a list of resources and professional development opportunities on the Council for Exceptional Children site.

Florida Community Mental Health Program
This Medicare certification program for Partial Hospitalization Programs for Community Mental Health providers includes services for mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

Florida Council for Community Mental Health
The Florida Council for Community Mental Health (FCCMH) is a statewide association of 70 community-based mental health and substance abuse agencies. The Council was formed in 1958 as an association of mental health clinic directors. Its role broadened in the 1960s and 1970s, as the focus of treatment shifted from state hospitals to communities. The association's membership expanded to include a number of agencies that specialize in substance abuse services and children's services, as well as hospital-based programs.
Each member agency is a private corporation, generally with a volunteer, citizen board of directors who are representative of the local community. These boards set policy for the agencies and serve as a way to help to assure that community treatment needs are being met. FCCMH agencies receive funding from the local, state and federal government, as well as organizations such as the United Way and private foundations. Council members serve predominately low-income individuals and families.

Learning & Working Rehabilitation Research & Training Center (RRTC)
The Learning and Working during the Transition to Adulthood RRTC that aims to improve the supports for youth and young adults, ages 14 to 30, with serious mental health conditions to successfully complete their schooling and training and move into rewarding work lives. The website contains information on research studies conducted by the RRTC publications and related resources.

Life Beyond the Classroom: Transition Strategies for Young People
The latest edition of this landmark text brings together the most up-to-date, comprehensive information on facilitating transitions for young people with mild, moderate, or severe disabilities. Teaming with the best-known researchers in the fields of employment, transition, postsecondary education, disability, and special education, internationally recognized authority Paul Wehman has thoroughly updated the entire book with the latest theoretical information and practical guidance.

Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI)
FMHI’s mission is to improve the lives of people with mental, addictive, and developmental disorders through research, training, and education. Established by the Florida legislature in 1967, the Institute is recognized as Florida's premier research and training center for behavioral health services and is a recognized national leader. The organizational structure of the Institute includes the Dean's Office, three academic departments, and the research department.
This website provides one-stop access to U.S. government mental health and mental health problems information and resources with the intent of educating and guiding multiple audiences including the general public, health professionals, school districts, community and business leaders, and policymakers.

Mental Health Services, Florida Department of Children and Families
This site describes the components of the Mental Health Program Office, Florida’s mental health authority, including information on mental health services for children and adults, treatment facilities, disasters and behavioral health, training, crisis services, and more.

Park Place Behavioral Health Care
Park Place Behavioral Health Care is a community mental health agency serving Florida’s Osceola County since 1976. Located conveniently in Kissimmee, Florida, off Orange Blossom Trail in the Park Place Medical Center, the 40,000 square foot facility has been designed to offer optimum multi-level care in a relaxed state-of-the-art setting.

Promise for the Future: How Federal Programs Can Improve Career Outcomes for Youth & Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions (pdf)
This publication examines various federal programs that can provide assistance in meeting the educational, vocational and basic supports needs of youth and young adults (from ages 16 to 30) with serious mental health conditions.  It briefly examines the breadth and scope of available assistance and offers recommendations to improve state, local and federal police. The information is intended for a diverse audience including policymakers, those assisting youth and young adults (family members and professionals) and individuals and groups that advocate for improved public policy.

The RTC 4 Pathways 2 Positive Futures
This Research and Training Center (RTC) "aims to improve the lives of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions through rigorous research and effective training and dissemination. [Its] work is guided by the perspectives of young people and their families, and based in a positive development framework. " Its website contains research, training, publications, numerous ways to connect (including Twitter and Facebook), and resources.

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health
The goal of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center) is to enhance social acceptance and inclusion by ensuring that people with mental health problems and substance abuse disorders can live full, productive lives within communities without fear of prejudice and discrimination.

Self-Disclosure and Its Impact on Individuals Who Receive Mental Health Services (pdf)
This 2008 publication from the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, discusses the disclosure decision, self-disclosure of mental illnesses in employment, disclosure experiences, and disclosure of other illnesses and situations. Interview responses and recommendations for the federal mental health system as well as public and private providers are also discussed.

Transition to Independence Process TIP Model
This evidence-supported practice from the National Network for Youth Transition for Behavioral Health leads to improved outcomes for youth and adults with emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Transition Curriculum Support
This website provides a variety of information on Mental Health Curricula for the Student in Transition.
A place for teenagers and young adults with mental health challenges to talk with each other, gain access to information that will help them live happily and independently, and learn about new research and new ideas. The site was created and is maintained by a group of four young adults who are involved with research concerning the needs of people ages 14 to 30 who have mental health challenges. 


Jivanjee, P., Kruzich, M., & Gordon, L. (2009). The age of uncertainty: Parent perspectives on the transitions of young people with mental health difficulties to adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18,435–446

Podmostko, M. (2007, November). Tunnels and cliffs: A guide for workforce development practitioners and policymakers serving youth with mental health needs. Washington, DC:  National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership. Available at tunnels-and-cliffs

Wagner, M. & Cameto, R. (2004, August). The characteristics, experiences, and outcomes of youth with emotional disturbances. NLTS2 Data Brief, 3, 2. Available at /viewdesc.asp?id=1687

Wagner, M., Newman, L., D’Amico, R., Jay, E. D., Butler-Nalin, P., Marder, C., et al. (1991). Youth with disabilities: How are they doing? Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.