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Mental Health Support for Students Transitioning to Adulthood in Florida

The National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) found that youth with emotional disturbances (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 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 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 can be a challenge. A number of service systems have overlapping and confusing eligibility requirements and terminology (Podmostko, 2007). For example, what a school calls an "emotional disturbance" may be called a "mental illness" by a community services organization or a "psychiatric disorder’ by a medical facility. Following are resources to make finding appropriate services easier:

Bullying Prevention Resources

Bullying Prevention: 2015 Resource Guide
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. 

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.  

Risk and Protective Factors Associated with the Bullying Involvement of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
This Review 360 Behavior Matters blog post describes recent research relating to the fluidity of the bully/victim dynamic with regard to students with emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as synthesizes information from Rose and Espelage (2012) who examined rates of bullying involvement and the intersection of individual attributes among middle school students identified with specific disabilities and their peers without disabilities.
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.


Transitions RTC 
The Learning and Working during the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research & Training Center focuses on improving supports for youth ages 14-30 with serious mental health conditions so that they can move into rewarding work lives. The website contains information on research studies conducted by the RTC, RTC publications, and related resources.

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.

Promise for the Future: A Compendium of Fact Sheets on Federal Programs for Transition Age Youth with Serious Mental Health Conditions 
This compendium of fact sheets describes 34 programs administered by the federal government that could help young people (14-30 year-olds) gain a firm footing on the path to a career and independent living.

Self-Disclosure and Its Impact on Individuals Who Receive Mental Health Services 
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.

Florida Institute for Family Involvement (FIFI)
FIFI is dedicated to creating solutions, strengthening partnerships, enhancing community collaboration and building an information base for children and youth with special needs and their families. Children with special health care needs are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. The Florida Federation of Families for children’s Mental Health (FFFCMH), one of several projects affiliated with FIFI, is a nationally affiliated, parent-run organization focused on the needs of children and youth with emotional and behavioral or mental disorders and their families.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 web site.  

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. 
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.

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.

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health 
This initiative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focuses on “countering prejudice and discrimination associated with mental illness by gathering information and research and providing technical assistance and support.”

Transition Curriculum Support
This Web site 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. 


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

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

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.

Project 10: Transition Education Network
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
529 1st Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701