Texas Network of Youth Services Receives Policy Grant to Identify Needs of Young Adults with Mental Illness
December 18, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas – Transitioning to adulthood and independence can be difficult for teenagers, but it's especially hard for runaway, homeless and foster youth with a mental health condition. The Texas Network of Youth Services hopes to ease that transition for Texas teens with a $77,780 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Runaway, homeless and foster youth and young adults experience higher rates of mental health needs, which can intensify the challenges of finding housing and employment and building healthy, mature relationships, said Theresa Tod, executive director of the network.
"Research has shown that many services for these youth are not helpful, accessible or appropriate. The consequences can be enormous: higher dropout rates, substance abuse, sexual abuse, chronic homelessness, human trafficking, criminal activity and HIV/AIDS," said Tod.
The organization aims to change that by hiring and training runaway, homeless and aged-out foster youth to interview their peers at eight sites across Texas. The interviews will identify challenges and solutions, as well as racial disparities and trends. The peer interview model is based on a similar study conducted by the California Research Bureau in 2008.
Findings from peer interviews, youth service provider interviews and previous studies will be compiled in a policy report. Groups of youth, stakeholders and experts will review the report and recommend legislative and organizational policy changes to state lawmakers and state agencies. The project also will include youth in advocacy efforts, such as testifying before legislative committees, and will share its findings with child and youth advocacy groups.
"Consulting with youth and involving them at every stage of the project, from planning to implementation to advocacy is valuable and important. It will bring a whole new level of authenticity to the research," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation.
Project advisors include three faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin: Dr. James Schwab and Dr. Sanna J. Thompson from the School of Social Work and Dr. Lynn Rew from the School of Nursing.
The network is one of four Texas groups that received a total of $265,348 in policy project grants from the Hogg Foundation this month. The foundation awarded the grants for projects that will lead to better understanding and improvements in policies and processes that affect Texas consumers of mental health services.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.
The Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) is an organization of 60 nonprofit youth service agencies and private individuals who share the common goal of creating better options and improving available services for youth and families in crisis.
Contact for Texas Network of Youth Services: Helen Petty, director of organizational development, (512) 328-6860