Easing teens' passage to adulthood
When Professor Pauline Jivanjee thought about how to teach social work students about youths’ transition to adult mental health services, she turned to an untapped source: clients.
“People who use our services have a lot to teach us,” Jivanjee says. “They know better than anybody what they find helpful.”
Yet service users are often marginalized because of their diagnoses. Jivanjee decided to address that perception by training social work students in a new way. In her work with the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, she used part of a grant to fund a graduate-level class she co-teaches with a young adult who has used services and a parent whose young adult has mental illness.
“By having this experience in class, it normalizes and helps promote the idea of partnership between social workers and the people they work with,” Jivanjee says.
Jivanjee also hopes to highlight the gap between youth and adult mental health services in the U.S.
“Kids lose eligibility for service at 18 and don’t necessarily get picked up for adult service,” she says. That can be hugely problematic because many complex illnesses, such as schizophrenia, emerge in adolescence or early adulthood, and, left untreated, can compromise a person’s ability to live and work productively.
Her hope is that learning from clients directly will help achieve another goal: to see people as partners in recovery, not just diagnoses.
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