Youth and Emerging Leaders

One of the exciting and important developments in the world of behavioral health in recent years is the growing recognition of the important role that youth and emerging leaders can play in the world of adult mental health. There are many programs and organizations designed to serve families, as well as program and organizations committed to supporting adult consumers. At the same time, there is a population of young people with a unique perspective on behavioral health, many of which have dealt with foster care, juvenile justice and mental health systems. The CAFE TAC believes that it is critical to support those youth and emerging leaders as they transition into adulthood, speak for themselves and their peers, be effective advocates for systems change, and thrive in the adult world.

As this section grows, it will include links to information and resources that can help youth and emerging leaders define their role and participate in the national conversation about mental health and substance abuse. CAFE TAC supports the notion that the best way to engage youth and emerging leaders is to empower them to set their own course and agenda, and to identify what issues are most important for themselves. The tools in this section will help to realize that vision.


CAFE TAC Resources

Focus 13: Emerging Adults: Getting on Board examines how consumer organizations can involve youth by including them on their Boards of Directors.

Focus Issue 6: The Shift from a Child to Consumer Support System

Bridging the Gap: Reaching Out to Emerging AdultsThis new on-demand training examines the challenges that face young adults as they transition to the adult system of care, and ways in which adult consumers can welcome them into their networks and organizations.

Focus 5: Emerging Adults Need Consumer Support

Emerging Adult Consumers of Mental Health ServicesAlthough child and adult service delivery systems are often disconnected by separate funding streams and different service packages, the consumer networks and their leaders and emerging adults do not need to follow suit. This white paper examines opportunities for consumers to play a critical role in modeling and coaching emerging adults ages 18 through 26 years of age as they navigate a new world; often on their own in the midst of significant life changes.

Emerging Adults on Governance Boards is an online training that examines how consumer organizations can make emerging adults part of their operations by integrating them into their Boards of Directors. By including emerging adults, consumer organizations can make their commitment to welcoming a new generation of leaders clear, while also creating a meaningful role for those emerging adults that can help them to feel involved and empowered.


Youth and Transition Resources

Youth MOVE – Youth M.O.V.E National is a youth led national organization devoted to improving services and systems that support positive growth and development by uniting the voices of individuals who have lived experience in various systems including mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.

Becoming an Adult: Challenges for Those with Mental Health Conditions – This research brief discusses issues related to individuals transitioning to adulthood who have serious mental health conditions.

Entering the World of Work: What Youth with Mental Health Needs Should Know about Accommodations – Fact sheet providing guidance to assist with a successful transition into the workforce by answering questions regarding disclosure, accommodations and resources.

Erasing the Distance – Non-profit arts organization based in Chicago, IL that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.

Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System: Practical Considerations – InfoBrief describing the characteristics of and issues faced by youth involved with the juvenile justice system, including those with disabilities; provides a framework for youth service professionals to help these youth avoid or transition out of the juvenile justice system, promotes cross-systems collaboration, and highlights promising practices currently being implemented around the country.

Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment – Guides youth through the steps of finding, applying for, participating in, and evaluating an internship; include topics such as career exploration, interview and resume building, goal setting, networking, as well as information and tips for youth with disabilities on finding accessible housing, navigating the transportation system, disclosing a disability, and employing a personal care attendant.

Jack Project – Support for youth as they transition from late high school into their years of college, university or independent living, helping them to achieve and sustain their optimal mental health.

Navigating Tunnels and Cliffs: Empowering Families and Caregivers to Assist Youth with Mental Health Needs in Preparing for Work – Provides families, caregivers, and youth with mental health needs the information needed to prepare for a career including promising practices from the field and an action plan for success.

Planning for Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities: A Guide for Health Care Providers – 80-page resource guide is written for health care providers who care for children with special health care needs, gives information, resources and strategies needed by providers to support adolescents and their families to meet the challenges of transition.

State Efforts to Expand Transition Supports for Young Adults Receiving Public Mental Health Services – – Findings underlining the importance of mental health (MH) services throughout this stage of life and the need for interventions that facilitate the development of adult functioning.

Successful Transition Models for Youth with Mental Health Needs: A Guide for Workforce Professionals – – InfoBrief describing the systems’ service barriers faced by youth with mental health needs as they reach adulthood, while highlighting new models and strategies designed to break down those barriers and help them to transition successfully into the workplace.

RTC for Pathways to Positive Futures – Aims to improve the lives of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions through rigorous research and effective training and dissemination; guided by the perspectives of young people and their families, and based in a positive development framework.

The Road to Self-Sufficiency: A Guide to Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities – Serves as a resource for organizations working with youth on career exploration and employment options, and policymakers who support youth programs through policy and practice; shows how entrepreneurship education can be implemented in programs and offers suggestions on how to introduce self-employment as an option for all youth.

Transition Goals in the IEP – A much closer look at the kind of information needed in a student’s IEP as part of transition planning.

Transition to Adulthood – Planning guidelines for preparing to leave high school and become an adult.

Health Care Transition – – Information and resources on managing transition for child to adult health care.