Pilot Program, “It’s OK to Not Be OK” Targets Ages 16 to 25 In Transition with Needed Services; Buncombe and Henderson Counties Earmarked as Launch Locations
ASHEVILLE, NC — North Carolina Healthy Transitions (NCHT), a project funded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has aligned with two local mental health agencies, Youth Villages and Family Preservation Services, to address higher risks in behavioral and mental health in young adults 16 to 25, and to also deliver needed services to address a spike in mental health since the pandemic.
Funding in Buncombe and Henderson counties, where NCHT launched its pilot, the “It’s OK to Not Be OK” program, is provided by a federal grant to deliver services to young adults experiencing higher levels of anxiety, stress, depression, thoughts of suicide, and other mental health and behavioral concerns. Buncombe and Henderson counties were selected as innovation sites to work through outreach, engagement, screening, assessment, intervention, and treatment approaches so that NCHT could help support turnkey services and statewide sustainability efforts should the grant be awarded again in the future.
“The transition age coincides with the onset for most mental and behavioral health challenges, and COVID-19 pushed people toward levels of heightened anxiety,” said Kate Perrotta, LCSW, CCM, Project Director, North Carolina Healthy Transitions. “This program is critical because young adults experience transition cliffs and are often silent or reluctant to ask for help or don’t know how. The message, ‘It’s OK to Not Be OK,’ is our invitation for them to get the help they need in a welcoming environment that addresses their emotions in a developmentally appropriate name with unique and personalized services.”
Most mental health challenges emerge in the late teens to early 20s, with roughly 75 percent of those challenges beginning by the early 20s, according to Ronald C. Kessler, et al in the Archive of General Psychiatry, June 2005.
An April 2020 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Household Pulse Survey on Anxiety and Depression, showed that symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the U.S. compared with the same period in 2019. Overall, 41 percent of all respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder related to the pandemic with some turning to substance use to cope with these pandemic-related emotions. The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%).
Youth Villages and Family Preservation Services are currently accepting new clients for virtual and in-person services. The two agencies will address mental and behavioral health concerns by providing care coordination, screening and assessment, education and vocation support, therapy and treatment, among other services.
To self-refer or recommend someone in need of attention, contact Youth Villages at 828-250-3726 or 919-271-1491 or visit www.youthvillages.org/ about-us/locations/north- carolina/ To reach Family Preservation Services, contact 828-378-0535 or visit the website https://www.pathways. com/northcarolina.
About North Carolina Healthy Transitions Project
North Carolina Healthy Transitions, a project to support and unite children, youth and families with mental health concerns, received a federal grant from SAMHSA to improve access to treatment and support services for young people ages 16-25 who have a serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness and to improve the behavioral and emotional functioning of the young people served.
Through this program, in conjunction with partnerships with local mental health agencies, children and youth with serious emotional, behavioral and/or mental health challenges and their families will have a family driven, child focused system of care to ensure their independence, safety, happiness and success in their homes, schools, and their communities. Visit https:// nchealthytransitions.org/ to learn more.
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