Mental health support for young adults

Mental health support for young adults – Transitions

Note on terminology: transition is the ‘planned transfer of young people with long-term conditions and/or complex needs from child-centred to adult-orientated health and social care systems’ (Care Quality Commission, 2016).

  • Many young adults experience poor mental health:
    • Half of all mental health conditions become established before age 14, and 75% by age 24 (Kessler et al., 2005).
    • The onset of severe and enduring mental health conditions (such as schizophrenia and eating disorders) often begins in late teenage years and early adulthood (Anderson et al., 2022).
    • National data shows that almost 1 in 4 young women (age 17 to 19) are likely to have a mental health condition, with 43% of young women aged 17 to 24 reporting having self-harmed (Peytrignet et al., 2022).
  • Young adulthood is often the cut off age of children and young people’s mental health services, at which point young people receiving care must either transition into adult mental health services or be discharged (Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, 2018).
  • Some 17-year-olds are not referred into children and young people’s mental health services because they will reach the cut off age of these services before they get to the end of long waiting lists (Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, 2018).
  • Young people report finding it difficult to navigate new service settings or to manage their mental health and wellbeing after being discharged from children and young people’s mental health services, especially as the availability and type of support offered can change dramatically (Public Health England, 2019b).
  • Young people may become disengaged or lost in the transition process, which can result in them later re-presenting to services with a greater severity of need or when in mental health crisis (Public Health England, 2019b).


Full list of references is included at the end of this chapter.