Psychiatric Rehabilitation & Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions

Research Paper Title

Factors that hinder or facilitate the continuous pursuit of education, training, and employment among young adults with serious mental health conditions.

Background

This study can inform psychiatric rehabilitation practice by describing the patterns of education, training, and employment activities among young adults with serious mental health conditions and identify potentially malleable factors that hinder or facilitate their ability to continuously pursue these activities.

Methods

One-time, in-person interviews were conducted with 55 young adults, ages 25-30, with serious mental health conditions in Massachusetts. The life story interview script asked participants about key life and mental health experiences and details about their education, training, and employment experiences.

Results

Young adult paths’ through post-secondary school, training, and work were often non-linear and included multiple starts and stops. Many young adults reported unsteady and inconsistent patterns of school and work engagement and only half were meaningfully engaged in education, employment, or training at the time of the interview. Employment often included service industry jobs with short tenures and most who had attempted post-secondary college had not obtained a degree. Barriers to continuous pursuit of school, training, or work included stress-induced anxiety or panic, increased symptomatology related to their mental health condition, and interpersonal conflicts. Flexible school, training, and work environments with supportive supervisors helped facilitate the continuous pursuit of these activities.

Conclusions

Psychiatric rehabilitation professionals need to help young adults with serious mental health conditions manage stress and anxiety and periods of increased symptomatology, navigate interpersonal challenges, and advocate for flexible and supportive accommodations. Early and blended education and employment supports would also be beneficial.

Reference

Sabella, K. (2021) Factors that hinder or facilitate the continuous pursuit of education, training, and employment among young adults with serious mental health conditions. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. doi: 10.1037/prj0000470. Online ahead of print.

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