The Practice Gap in Health Care Transition: Focus on Young People Heading to College with a Mental Health Condition

  • Adele MartelEmail author


Planned health care transition for young people with special health care needs, including those with emotional, behavioral, and developmental disorders, has been deemed a health priority both here in the U.S. and abroad. However, gaps in health care transition services for adolescents and young adults continue to exist. Youth headed to college with pre-existing mental health conditions are among those in need of transition preparation and planning services. When compared to their peers without mental illness, these students face additional challenges when transitioning to college. They must have some understanding of how their illness might impact functioning in the college environment and what supports they need to aid academic and social success. They are expected to manage their illness more independently, advocate for themselves, develop relationships with new treatment providers, and navigate a new system of care. In this chapter, the definition and goals of health care transition are described. Then, by looking at the prevalence of mental health disorders in the college-age population in conjunction with recent college enrollment statistics, findings from developmental psychopathology, and survey data of incoming freshman, the scope of the need for mental health care transition services for college-bound youth is highlighted. Knowledge of normal child, adolescent, young adult, and family development, the principles of the systems of care model, tenets of educational transition planning, and anticipatory guidance, along with clinical experience and expert consensus, inform best practices in mental health care transition planning.


Goals of health care transition Heading to college with mental illness College student mental health issues Developmental tasks of college students Mental health needs on campus Transition to college 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesAnn and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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