Fifty percent of adults with a mental illness report their symptoms began in their early teens, and seventy-five percent report their symptoms began during young adulthood. It is estimated that six to twelve percent (2.4 to 5 million) of 18- to 30-year-olds in the United States have a serious mental health condition that adversely affect their ability to complete their education and engage in competitive employment. Youth and young adults with a serious mental health condition lag behind the general population in several positive transition outcomes (i.e. high school completion, employment, higher education, and independent living) and have greater involvement in the criminal justice system.

Heart of Texas System of Care seeks to develop and implement a comprehensive network of community-based services to close the existing gaps in adolescent, and young adult mental health services, and provide better supports for youth as they transition into adulthood.

The project will target six counties in central Texas (Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, McClennan, and Limestone). The evaluation will focus on the development and implementation of school-based mental health services, and a transition-age youth program spanning 16-21 years of age, with a specific emphasis on those experiencing first episode psychosis or early onset severe mental illness (i.e. bipolar, major depressive disorder).