Youth and Young Adults: Understanding Them, Serving Them

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During a recent interview for KUHF, Houston’s NPR affiliate, Dr. Sarah Narendorf, assistant professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston, provided a pitch perfect summary of the thinking that drives the Hogg Foundation’s efforts to support the mental health of youth and young adults.

During a segment titled, “UH Moment: Mental Illness” that aired on Sep. 25, Narendorf — awarded a grant by the Hogg Foundation to study help-seeking patterns among young adults receiving psychiatric emergency services in Harris County — explained why the moment is opportune for talented scholars like herself who wish to contribute to the emerging dialogue about the mental health needs of young people.

“I’m already starting to see the seeds of what interventions will start to look like for this population, so if I can contribute to the conversation about how we develop interventions for this group, I think that would be a really great outcome of my work,” said Narendorf.

Tragic incidents, such as youth suicides, have sparked heightened awareness of the urgent mental health needs of young people, their families and those who provide services to them. In addition to our Mental Health Research Grants for Assistant Professors, which support the work of researchers like Dr. Narendorf, the Hogg Foundation has also launched its Transition-Age Youth and their Families (TAYF)  grant initiative, which aims to identify and support best practices for alleviating the mental health challenges of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24. This vulnerable population, an estimated three million young adults with mental health conditions, are at increased risk of involvement in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. Through our grants, we seek to incentivize organizations that not only provide services and supports to this population, but who actively involve TAYF at both the planning and implementation stages.

A recently released White House report noted that although three-quarters of mental illnesses appear before the age of 24, less than half of children with a diagnosable mental health condition receive treatment. To us this represents a tremendous opportunity to intervene with services and supports and unlock the talents and energies of a large number of people who are experiencing these difficulties. As a foundation we are committed to supporting and publicizing the work of individuals and organizations who are helping us to better understand, better engage and better serve these members of our community.

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