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Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness: Some States and Federal Agencies Are Taking Steps to Address Their Transition Challenges

GAO-08-678 Published: Jun 23, 2008. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 2008.
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The transition to adulthood can be difficult for young adults who suffer from a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. When these individuals are unsuccessful, the result can be economic hardship, social isolation, and in some cases suicide, all of which can pose substantial costs to society. Due to concerns about young adults with serious mental illness transitioning into adulthood, GAO was asked to provide information on (1) the number of these young adults and their demographic characteristics, (2) the challenges they face, (3) how selected states assist them, and (4) how the federal government supports states in serving these young adults and coordinates programs that can assist them. To do this work, GAO analyzed data based on national surveys, including the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), and administrative data from the Social Security Administration (SSA). GAO also reviewed published research; interviewed federal, state, and local officials, as well as mental health providers, experts, and advocacy groups; and conducted site visits in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Mississippi --four states that focus on this population. GAO did not make any recommendations. HHS made comments intended to clarify the report and we made changes as appropriate.

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