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Conference Proceeding

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Social work with youth, Youth -- Mental health services -- Evaluation, Young adults -- Mental health services, Social service -- United States


Over the last decade, evidence has mounted showing that young people with serious mental health conditions experience a variety of challenges as they mature into adulthood. On average, their educational, economic and vocational outcomes are distinctly worse than their peers’, and they are more likely to experience homelessness, to struggle with substance use, and to be involved with corrections systems. In 2009, researchers at the Regional Research Institute at Portland State University applied for and received a grant from the National Institute for Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR, US Department of Education) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS, US Department of Health and Human Services) to create the Research and Training Center on Pathways to Positive Futures. This Center, known as “Pathways RTC” or, simply, “Pathways,” included eight research projects and related training, dissemination and technical assistance activities, all focused on improving outcomes for older adolescents and young adults who experienced serious mental health conditions (SMHCs).

Prior to the State-of-the-Science Conference, Pathways staff joined with young people, family members, researchers and service providers to develop a conceptual model that describes how providers can work productively and effectively with young people who experience SMHCs. This “Pathways model” also builds on evidence drawn from programs and interventions that have demonstrated success in promoting positive outcomes among emerging adults. The overall aim was to produce a “common elements and common factors” model that would be useful for guiding practice and shaping interventions that are developmentally appropriate, attractive to young people, and effective in achieving recovery- oriented outcomes.


The State-of-the-Science Conference Proceedings was developed by the Research & Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

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