Document Type

Long-term Community Adaptation of Children and Youth Receiving Residential Mental Health Services

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


What happens to children and youth after they leave residential mental health treatment? How do these youth navigate normative developmental transitions like finishing school, getting a job, and finding a place to live? What types of assistance might facilitate these transitions? Despite the critical importance of these questions for youth themselves, for the educational, justice, and mental health systems, and for the development of more appropriate transitions to community programming, surprisingly little is known about what happens to these children and youth over time.

This report presents the results of a research process in which 59 young adults who had received residential mental health treatment in the past were sorted into descriptive profiles based on the information they shared about their lives and personal functioning with researchers. Five different groups of young adults emerged from this process and represent the clearest categorizations for understanding this particular sample of young adults from across Southern Ontario who received residential treatment.

Sorting young adults into distinct groups based on their functioning within key life domains (like education, employment, social connections, personal functioning) is useful to understanding the long term community adaptation of youth previously involved in children’s residential mental health treatment. Through a process of describing the defining characteristics of particular groups of young adults we can begin to think about adapting services and supports to meet the unique needs of distinct groups of youth as they transition into young adulthood.