Investing in the health and well-being of young adults

November 01, 2014

IOM report takes a closer look at emerging adults…

iomThe resulting report, Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, offers federal, state, and local policy makers and program leaders, as well as employers, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners’ guidance in developing and enhancing policies and programs to improve young adults’ health, safety, and well-being. In addition, the report suggests priorities for research to inform policies and programs for young adults.

Recognizing the need for a special focus on young adulthood, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Department of Defense commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) to convene a committee of experts to review what is known about the health, safety, and well-being of young adults and to offer recommendations for policy and research.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from authors of the report at the 28th Annual Research & Policy Conference, March 22 – 25, 2014. You can learn more about the conference here. Read the description of this exciting plenary session below: 

Investing in the Helth and Well-Being of Young Adults: Highlights from an Institute of Medicine/National Research Council Report

Maryann Davis, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School; John Schulenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Research Professor, Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan; Mark Courtney, Ph.D., Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; Jennifer Collins, Student, University of Maryland College Park

  • Young adults are at a significant and pivotal time of life. They may seek higher education, launch their work lives, develop personal relationships and healthy habits, and pursue other endeavors that help set them on healthy and productive pathways. However, the transition to adulthood also can be a time of increased vulnerability and risk. Young adults may be unemployed and homeless, lack access to health care, suffer from behavioral health issues (i.e. mental health or substance abuse issues) or other chronic health conditions, or engage in binge drinking, illicit drug use, or driving under the influence. Young adults are moving out of the services and systems that supported them as children and adolescents, but adult services and systems—for example, adult behavioral health care systems, the labor market, and the justice system—may not be well suited to supporting their needs. 

    This interactive session will focus on the October 2014 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report on the health and well-being of young adults. The report summarizes what is known about the behavioral and physical health, safety, and well-being of young adults and offers recommendations for policy, programs, and research. It was prepared by a multidisciplinary committee with expertise in behavioral health, public health, health care, social services, human development, psychology, neuroscience, demography, justice and law, sociology, economics, the private sector, family studies, and media and communication.

davisMaryann Davis, Ph.D., is a research associate professor with the Center for Mental Health Services Research in the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. She is also director of the Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (Transitions RTC). Dr. Davis is an internationally recognized expert on services for transition-age youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. Her focus is on improving treatments and services for this population that help support the development of adult role functioning during the transition from adolescence to mature adulthood. She has examined the ways in which policies and practices support or impede the healthy development of this unique age group. Dr. Davis’s work also emphasizes the development of evidence-based interventions that can improve this population’s transition to adulthood, including facilitation of mental health and related treatment, as well as interventions that reduce criminal behavior and substance abuse while supporting the successful completion of education and training and movement into mature work life.


John Schulenberg, Ph.D., is professor of developmental psychology, research professor at the Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, and associate director of the Survey Research Center, all at the University of Michigan. He has published widely on several topics concerning adolescence and the transition to adulthood, focusing on how developmental tasks and transitions relate to health risks and adjustment difficulties. His current research is on the etiology and epidemiology of substance use and psychopathology, focusing on risk factors, course, comorbidity, and consequences during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. Dr. Schulenberg is co-principal investigator of the national Monitoring the Future study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), concerning substance use and psychosocial development across adolescence and adulthood. He collaborates on two international interdisciplinary projects involving several long-term studies addressing key questions about life-course pathways. His work has been funded by NIDA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), NICHD, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For these and other institutes and foundations, he has served on numerous advisory and review committees, including as chair of the NIH Psychosocial Development and Risk Prevention Study Section. He also serves on several editorial boards and for guest-edited special issues of AddictionApplied Developmental ScienceDevelopment and Psychopathology, and Journal of Longitudinal and Life-course Studies. He is a fellow of the APA and president-elect of the Society for Research on Adolescence.

markMark E. Courtney, Ph.D., M.S.W., is a professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He also has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin (1992-2000) and University of Washington (2007-2010). His fields of special interest are child welfare policy and services, the connection between child welfare services and other institutions serving families living in poverty, and the transition to adulthood for vulnerable populations. He is a faculty affiliate of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, for which he served as director from 2001 to 2006. He was a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policy from 2003 to 2010. Dr. Courtney received the 2010 Peter W. Forsythe Award for leadership in public child welfare from the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators and in 2012 was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He obtained his M.S.W. and Ph.D. degrees from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. 

jenniferJennifer Collins is a junior undergraduate at the University of Maryland in College Park, majoring in Family Science. She has been an active member of Montgomery County All Stars, which focuses on improving child and adolescent health in Montgomery County. She has also spoken at numerous forums regarding her experiences as a transitioning youth in the mental health system, most recently at the Tools for System Transformation for Young Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities conference art Georgetown University. She is also a 2009 winner of the Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program.

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