Emerging Adults

by | February 23, 2015

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has issued an Executive Summary report under the title Taking the Next Steps Forward: Building A Responsive Mental Health and Addictions System for Emerging Adults. It’s not unusual to see these kinds of reports floated by various government arms in advance of an election.  Sometimes they are thinly-veiled platforms for a given political party and sometimes they are lobby efforts from an interest group.

While this is the first time that I recall seeing the phrase “Emerging Adults” to describe the cohort between 16 and 25 years old, it is an interesting designation.  It used to be that this cohort was called everything from “youth” to “young adult”.  Certainly this has always been a cohort which interested the secular humanist and atheist community….at CFI, that cohort has been targeted as “Campus Outreach”.

Overall I like much of the language identified in the report.  A few important phrases are clearly highlighted in some of these samples:

  • Some youth-specific strategies have been developed, but few provinces or territories have implemented evidence-based approaches to transitions management or EA clinical service delivery approaches
  • Continued engagement with EA is key to improving their mental health outcomes, and for the development of responsive program models
  • A collaborative, cross-ministry policy approach responding to young people with mental health and addiction issues who are involved, or may need to be involved with multiple systems and sectors of care is necessary
  • High-profile national champions with political influence and academic and clinical credibility have an impact.
  • National research and training initiatives will drive program development.
  • There is a need for nationally funded, evidence-based practice and clinical guidelines, based on EA-specific research.

Apparently, the full report will be issued in the near future.  In the meantime this Executive Summary is only about nine pages long.  Clearly this recommended reading for any mental health and addictions professional, scientist or clinician interested in a possible road-map of emerging services in this field.

I also think this type of report is important to secularists and atheists.  Not only should it be heartening to read about evidence-based approaches and science re-asserted as foundations of healthcare and mental health care, I think secularists and atheists should be studying some of the statistics and relating to the issues unique to this community.  Possibly humanists, atheists and indeed secularists need to be actively involved in asking questions and participating in designing services.

If up to 52% of Emerging Adults disengage when serious mental health issues arise, what may be some of the underlying causes?

If family and peer connections are important, what may be the effect to the Emerging Adults who disconnects form their religion and suffers the loss of these connections?

There are many questions that can and should be asked; there are many opportunities for atheists and secularists to ensure that program solutions address possible underlying causes and design appropriate services.  If a national conversation about the mental health of Emerging Adults is about to ramp up, let’s ensure that this conversation includes the needs of atheists and humanists.



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