Youth with mental health challenges in transition: One family's story

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Nothing illustrates the vivid reminder of the difficulties faced by youth with emotional challenges who are in transition or emerging adults then when tragedy strikes. And that is what happened to the Bailey family with the loss of their son Josh. What is amazing to the Network about the Bailey family is their resilience and willingness to push for better mental health care for youth in transition, so much so, they created a foundation to do just that.

The mission of the Josh's Hope Foundation is:

 We at the Network think their story and accompanying website is worthy of a visit. With their permission, here is their story. The story of Josh Baily is an important reminder of the importance of working with transition-age youth - which is also why we are not shy about promoting the good work of two transition-focused research and training centers - The Learning & Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research & Training Center out of the University of Massachusetts and Pathways 2 Positive Futures, the Research & Training Center out of Portland State University.

Joshua Bailey

 July 21, 2010 Remembering Josh:  It has been 3 1/2  years since the last day we hugged Josh's neck and exchanged words of love and encouragement, anticipating seeing him or talking to him by phone, like usual. As he was leaving we made plans for a family get together for the following two weekends. Josh quickly agreed to attend the functions because family activities were something he always enjoyed. His grandparents were up from Florida and his mom's birthday was coming up. We were frustrated when we didn't hear from him the remainder of the week, wondering what was going on because it was not his routine to miss seeing or speaking to one of us nearly every day. He didn't return our phone calls but it was easy to not be terribly alarmed because he was low on cash and we thought he had run out of minutes on his cell phone. When he missed the first planned event and didn't return calls or acknowledge code calls we tried to not be alarmed and told ourselves he must have gone out of town with friends. He loved fishing and had talked about wanting to make a fishing trip so we waited, convincing ourselves that we would hear from him in the next day or so. When he missed his mom's birthday party and didn't even call, we knew something was tragically wrong. It was an instinct that gnawed at us and we weren't able to let it go. The next day, his dad went to CH Police to file a missing person report. He had mental illness and we knew he had not been taking his meds. We needed someone to find him. The CH Police weren't able to take the missing person report. They said it wasn't their policy, especially since Josh wasn't living at home and he was a legal adult. The officer suggested we file for an Involuntary Commitment with the Magistrate, but we knew that wasn't what we needed. We needed a missing person report, but even more, we needed someone out searching for Josh. He was laid-back and loved to chill, but this behavior was out of character, completely. Our worries grew. We kept driving the streets of Orange County searching for Josh, and so did his friends. Nobody could find him. Finally, his godmother called a friend of hers at Orange County Sheriff's Department who told us to come talk to him. That was mid-August. He filed the report and within days had issued a Silver Alert - someone missing who has any form of cognitive impairment, including mental illness. Seeing Josh's picture on the news was heartbreaking. If he was alive and alright we knew he would be upset with us for going to this extreme, but at the time we were willing to risk him being angry. We just needed to know he was safe, wherever he was. On September 12th we heard Matt Johnson had been kidnapped and beaten, which caused us both panic and hope since we knew he was a friend of Josh's. The next morning, OCSD investigator Tim Horne came by the house to tell us the news. Josh wasn't ever coming home. Time has yet to heal our wounds.
~ Steve and Julie Bailey ~


  1. Tamara Norris's avatar
    Tamara Norris
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    Thank you for your willingness to share your story, to create a foundation to address the needs of youth with mental health issues in transition, to use yourselves in your grief to help others in similar places.
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