From Child to Adult
Transition to adulthood is difficult for all young adults, but if you are a young adult who utilizes Behavioral Health or Substance Use Disorder services it can be confusing and overwhelming. It is also difficult for the parents and guardians who support them. Moving from child based to adult based services takes some preparation to make it easier and it ideally should start a year or more before the shift. Depending on the intensity of need and the way that the disorder is affecting the young adult’s decision making skills, it can be helpful for you, as the guardian, to check and see if your youth’s current providers have transition support.
- If transition planning is not available, you can go and visit companion adult based service providers to get information on how their system of support works. You can also ask how to find a new provider.
- If this is a young adult on Medicaid, the regional Behavioral Health Organization should have contact information and locations for these providers.
- If you are under private pay or employer based insurance, you will need to reach out to your youth’s current behavior health provider and/or therapist to see if they have some recommendations or can do a transition plan of care.
- If you go to two different providers for therapy and medication management you will need to connect with both.
Behavioral health and substance use disorder privacy laws have some very strict rules in place around shared information concerning the youth’s treatment plan, and if you are not a part of a wraparound or WISe program, you may have a more difficult time with providers responding to your inquiries. Ask for generalized information that can be applied to anyone about how the system works. This keeps it from being about a specific person and makes it easier for behavioral health professionals to share their processes with you.
The young adult accessing these services may want to participate in this process themselves. This can allow you to be a side-by-side support and they can give permission for you to be with them as they explore. Understand that once they are shifted to adult services, unless you have guardianship or they are determined to be incompetent or a danger to themselves or others, you will no longer have any decision-making power. Doing ground work ahead of time allows for a smoother transition and helps them maintain care longer.
Things to look at when planning for transition:
- Wait times to see the provider.
- Is there medication management out of the same office?
- Do they have an adult based wraparound type system?
- How accessible is the building and is it on a bus or transit line?
- Does the adult provider have a relationship with the current provider?
- Who is another trusted support person if your young adult no longer wishes you as a parent or guardian to be involved?
- What community supports need to be in place to for your young adult to be successful (smart phone apps, state community living supports like food stamps, SSI, disability bus pass, etc.)?
The key to prepping is creating a communication pathway ahead of time so that you can support your young adult as they transition. In the Behavioral Health System, at age 13 youth can demand that they make their own decisions in their care. This means starting at age 11 or 12 can help them in making smarter choices where their own care is concerned. Working to become a trusted support for both the therapists and your youth, as well as starting the conversations early, makes all the difference in the world.
US National Library of Medicine
Mental Health Services for Young People