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Center for Youth Mental Health Improves Care for Central Texans

Project Overview

The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a formative time for people as they establish independence and lay the foundation for a healthy adulthood. Unfortunately, this is also when many mental illnesses first surface. Young people facing this often don’t have access to the support they need, with mental health service usage dropping by more than 60% at age 18. Without mental health care, it is harder for them to thrive in school, form healthy adult relationships, and secure financial stability.

The Center for Youth Mental Health at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is working to fill this gap by offering new treatment models and strengthening community-based partnerships to give young adults the right care, at the right place and time. By eliminating deep-rooted barriers to mental health services, the center aims to help transition-age youth remain in school or maintain employment while they receive treatment.

“Being in the Emerging Voices Advisory Council has helped me realize that although we as humans put a smile on our faces and say we’re fine, we all face the same obstacles in slightly different shapes.”

Da’Keona Jones, EVAC founding member and student at Texas State University

How it Helps 

Child and adult mental health services have evolved separately over time, without many effective bridges between them. This makes it harder for transition-age youth – between ages 16 and 25 – to get appropriate care in a time when their responsibilities are growing. Where we live and work also adds additional barriers to receive care, with transition-age youth of color even less likely to receive support from mental health providers.   

As a result, already vulnerable teens and young adults are more likely to drop out of school, become unemployed, or face housing instability. 

To help eliminate inequities and drive better outcomes for young adults, the Center for Youth Mental Health is identifying gaps in community mental health services. By working to align organizations and community groups so their efforts can better serve Central Texans, barriers to effective and appropriate care for young adults can be removed.

The center also established an Emerging Voices Advocacy Council led by young adults. It strives to challenge mental health stigma, normalize transition-age youth experiences, and hold healthcare professionals accountable for providing the support that young people need. 

By developing new solutions and connecting teens and young adults with the treatment they need, the Center for Youth Mental Health is working to ensure a healthier and more secure future for at-risk young people throughout the Austin area. 

Foundation Project Lead