The Career Visions Project is focused on the career planning and development of young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 years who experience serious mental health issues. The Self-Determination Career Development Model, developed by Dr. Michael Wehmeyer and colleagues, is being adapted to address the unique issues of these young adults. Young adult advisors and others inform and guide the model adaptations. In order to experimentally evaluate the impact of the intervention, young adults from the Greater Portland Area who are interested in participating in the research are randomly selected to receive the intervention. Young adults who receive the intervention learn and apply skills in order to define their own career goal, identify steps to achieve this goal, and take action to complete these steps.
Better Futures: Youth in foster care with mental health issues face many barriers to participating in higher education. For example, these young people may question whether college is possible for them, they may have struggled in school due to frequent foster care and school placement changes, and they may have few adult allies, successful peers or role models. The Better Futures Project is learning about effective ways to help these young people prepare, plan and enroll in college or vocational training. Young people in foster care who live in Multnomah County and who are Juniors in high school and receive special education services because of an emotional/behavioral disability participate in the project. Youth who choose to enroll in the project are randomly assigned to either the intervention group or to a control group that receives typical services. Our intervention draws upon supported education in mental health and strategies for promoting self-determination. Youth participating in the intervention receive individualized coaching, peer support, and connection to foster care alumni and community resources. We are investigating the impact of participating in Better Futures on youth's empowerment, confidence, planning for postsecondary education, social support, mental health recovery, and academic performance.
Achieve My Plan: For young people aged 11.5-18 with serious mental health conditions, a comprehensive, team-based approach is increasingly seen as the preferred mechanism for creating and monitoring treatment plans. Unfortunately, the young people themselves rarely participate meaningfully in these kinds of interdisciplinary planning teams. As a result, they can become disengaged from the planning process and unmotivated to participate in the planned treatment. The Achieve My Plan! (AMP) study is testing a promising intervention that was developed by researchers at Portland State University, in collaboration with young people who have mental health conditions, service providers and caregivers. The study is systematically evaluating the impact of the AMP intervention on youth participation and engagement in treatment planning, youth empowerment, and youth mental health and recovery outcomes.
Transition Policy Consortium: Young people with serious mental health conditions often drop out or are forced out of services between the ages of 18 and 20. Policy and funding barriers, lack of attractive treatment models, and poor coordination between and across child and adult systems all contribute to this phenomenon. The Transition Policy Consortium includes several strands of work focused on identifying effective strategies for increasing system capacity to meet the needs of young people with serious mental health conditions as they transition into adulthood. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding how state and federal policies encourage or inhibit this sort of system development.
Finding Our Way furthers the development of a culturally specific self-assessment tool for American Indian/Alaskan Native young people. Developed for youth ages 13-19, the tool will be modified to include issues relevant to transition. Project products include training, supervision and coaching materials to improve provider practice.
eHealth Literacy: Every day, more people go online for medical advice than actually visit health care professionals. This study will investigate how young adults with mental health conditions in particular use the internet to access information about their diagnosis, medications, and treatment options. It will also develop and pilot a training designed to improve the eHealth literacy of transition-aged youth with serious mental health conditions. More specifically, this study aims to answer the following research questions: 1. How do transition-aged youth with serious mental health conditions use the internet for information and support regarding their mental health? 2. When asked questions about mental health, do transition-aged youth with serious mental health conditions find accurate answers online? 3. How do transition-aged youth with serious mental health conditions evaluate web sites? 4. Can we create a half-day training to improve eHealth literacy in transition-aged youth with serious mental health conditions?
Predictors of Positive Recovery Outcomes for Transition Aged Youth: When young people with serious mental health conditions have support across the domains of their lives, there is increased hope for recovery and successful participation in post-secondary education and the workforce. Our project's aim is to examine the relationship between school attendance, school performance, educational supports, youth empowerment in mental health treatment, school functioning and career strengths, and the outcomes of educational engagement and employment.
Stigmatization: The growing knowledge base about the nature of stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs toward adults with mental illnesses has contributed to the development of new strategies for reducing stigmatization. The relative lack of knowledge about stigmatization toward youth has hindered parallel efforts for young people. Studies among adults have suggested several important mediators of stigmatization and prejudice toward people with severe mental health conditions. These include knowledge about the condition, beliefs about the causes and treatability of the condition, beliefs about the dangerousness of a person with the condition, and social contact with people who have the condition. This study uses a large national data set to test a series of hypotheses regarding potential mediators of the stigmatization encountered by youth who experience severe depression or ADHD.