New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Researchers Michelle Munson and James Jaccard Isolate Motivational Factors Influencing Mental Health Service Use During The Transition to Adulthood

August 15, 2012

A new study by researchers at the NYU Silver School of Social Work has found that, among 60 young adults with a history of significant mental health difficulties, few used psychiatric services, medications, or other mental health services on a continuous basis as they transitioned to adulthood. The study isolated factors that young adults discussed influenced their service use.

The qualitative study by Associate Professor Michelle Munson, Professor James Jaccard, and their colleagues in Georgia and Ohio sheds light on the problem of untreated mental illness among young adults nationwide, and explore factors that influence mental health service use decisions during young adulthood among those exiting child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and other publicly funded systems of care.

In the study, “Static, dynamic, integrated, and contextualized: A framework for understanding mental health service utilization among young adults,” published in the journal Social Science and Medicine (Volume 75, Issue 8, pp. 1441-1449, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953612004881), Munson and colleagues explore with in-depth, semi-structured interviews the experiences of people ages 18 to 25 in one Midwestern state, and the reasons why in most cases their engagement with mental health services turned sporadic or came to a stop. By design, all 60 participants included in the study were currently struggling with continued mood and emotional difficulties and shared three childhood experiences – mood disorder diagnosis, use of public mental health services, and experience with social service systems.

Results showed that few of the study participants were continuous service users during the transition to adulthood, with most either discontinuing services (42%) or reporting single (22%) or multiple gaps (15%) in service use as they moved from adolescence to adulthood – a juncture when, developmentally, young adults are in the midst of solidifying their identity and making life transitions and, institutionally, they are aging out of children’s social service systems. The reasons for not using services consistently ranged from participants’ doubts about the efficacy of services and concerns about one’s “image,” to insurance barriers and long wait times for counseling and other types of assistance at overburdened social service agencies.

Munson and colleagues’ study provides future researchers with a mid-level theory, which is an integrated and comprehensive framework for further research and understanding about the sporadic use of mental health services by young adults. The framework includes the dynamic nature of service use and a template of multi-level factors to consider at any one point in time.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Silver School of Social Work, Research

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

Researchers Michelle Munson and James Jaccard Isolate Motivational Factors Influencing Mental Health Service Use During The Transition to Adulthood

Search News



NYU In the News

NYU Offers Financial Aid to Undocumented Students

The Wall Street Journal reported that NYU will begin offering scholarship aid to undocumented students for the school year beginning next September.

NYU Adopts Lean LaunchPad Program to Teach Entrepreneurship

Startup guru Steve Blank, in a Huffington Post blog, described how NYU adopted the Lean LaunchPad model to teach entrepreneurship to students and faculty at NYU.

Biology Professor Jane Carlton Examines Wastewater for the City’s Microbiome

The New York Times’ Science Times column “Well” profiled Biology Professor Jane Carlton and her research project to sequence microbiome of New York City by examining wastewater samples.

Steinhardt Professors Use a Play as Therapy

The New York Times wrote about a play written by Steinhardt Music Professor Robert Landy about the relationship between Adjunct Professor Cecilia Dintino, a clinical psychologist in the Drama Therapy Program, and a patient, former Broadway actress Jill Powell.

NYU Public Health Experts Urge Strengthening Local Health Systems to Combat Ebola

Dean Cheryl Healton of the Global Institute of Public Health and Public Health Professor Christopher Dickey wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post saying international health agencies need to strengthen their presence in countries at the local level to prevent future ebola outbreaks.

NYU Footer