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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 5/7/2013 9:30 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Report shows community-based programs improve the lives of young adults with mental health challenges

A new report indicates that young adults (ages 18–25) taking part in community-based treatment programs achieve positive outcomes in behavioral and emotional health, daily life skills, employment, enrollment in school, and reduced homelessness. This report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that older adolescents and young adults who had participated in these SAMHSA-supported treatment programs reported lower levels of substance use disorders.


The report, Promoting Recovery and Independence for Older Adolescents and Young Adults Who Experience Serious Mental Health Challenges, indicates that 20 percent of young adults living in U.S. households had a mental health condition in the last year. Of these, more than 1.3 million had a disorder so serious that their ability to function in many aspects of everyday life was compromised.


To address this need SAMHSA sponsors a wide range of programs directed toward treating many behavioral health challenges facing older adolescents and young adults including mental health conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders.   In many instances they have helped older adolescents and young adults achieve recovery and move onto live full, productive lives. 


For example, among older adolescents and young adults participating in the SAMHSA-sponsored Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, 28 percent showed significant improvement in their behavioral and emotional health within the first six months, and 38 percent showed significant improvement within the first year. Many participants reported they had greater confidence in their abilities to perform important life skills such as preparing meals and securing rental agreements. Homelessness dropped by 36 percent after six months in services among those ages 18 and older participating in the program.  


Similarly among older adolescents and young adults participating in the SAMHSA-sponsored Emerging Adults Initiative (EAI) program the report showed a 30 percent increase in young adults reporting that they had a stable place to live within the community and a 37 percent increase in those stating they had positive functioning in everyday life.


“These data show that treatment is effective. Young people who experience mental or substance use disorders can recover and lead healthy, productive lives with improvements in employment opportunities, housing, education and emotional well-being,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.


The report also shows that many participants in SAMHSA sponsored substance use treatment programs were also treated for mental conditions and that this treatment had a beneficial effect in terms of mental well-being and recovery from substance use disorders. Among those older adolescents and young adults who participated in these programs there was a 34 percent decrease in the number of young adults who reported experiencing mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety and an 80 percent increase in the number of young adults who were living in the community. In addition, in SAMHSA’s Pregnant and Postpartum Women program, 86 percent of participating young adults reported no substance use after six months of treatment (versus only 40 percent of those entering the program) and 29 percent reported being employed or in school (versus only 13 percent of those entering the program).


The report was released today during SAMHSA’s press briefing for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day), SAMHSA’s annual celebration highlighting the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. Awareness Day is part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on public awareness and support, and is being observed on May 9 this year. More than 135 national organizations and federal agencies and programs are collaborating to provide greater access to community-based mental health services and supports for all children, youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions and their families as part of Awareness Day 2013. 

Across the country, more than 1,100 communities are celebrating this annual observance with local events; social media campaigns; and dance, music, and visual activities with children to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health.


To download Promoting Recovery and Independence for Older Adolescents and Young Adults Who Experience Serious Mental Health Challenges and view the full list of field references, visit

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last updated: 5/7/2013 9:58 AM

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