Collaboration Between Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation Programs for Transition-Age Youth Vocational Outcomes

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Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal

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Transition-age youth (TAY) with serious mental health conditions (SMHC) face many challenges as they establish adult employment. Mental health (MH) programs and vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs each provide key supports toward this goal, but collaboration is required. Objective: The present study’s objective was to assess the extent of collaboration between VR programs and MH programs that serve this age group and to identify interorganizational factors associated with collaboration levels. Method: Participants were 100 key informants from VR, and child mental health (CMH), transition-age youth MH (TAYMH), and adult mental health (AMH) programs in communities that received federal funding to improve services for TAY with or at risk of SMHC. Participants completed web surveys that queried four interorganizational factors and employed a modified social network analysis methodology to assess collaboration levels. Results: The interorganizational factor, depth of knowledge, had a strong and consistent association with collaboration levels. There was little difference in MH–VR collaboration levels between MH programs serving different age groups. However, VR programs and CMH programs had both lower depth of knowledge of each other and lower collaboration levels, compared to TAY and AMH programs. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Collaboration between VR and MH programs is instrumental to making sure that TAY with SMHC receive appropriate career development and employment services. Increasing the depth of knowledge that programs have about each other may enhance collaboration and appears particularly needed between VR and CMH programs.


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