Double whammy: transitioning from children’s to adult services and transitioning to adulthood

Trachtenberg, M. LSE Health & Social Care Blog. Published online: 18 April 2016

by Marija Trachtenberg

Common challenges for young people transitioning from children’s to adult services

First, an issue that is most common is that young people may not be adequately prepared to handle new responsibilities that come with using adult services. Adult services, compared to children’s services take a different approach in interacting with young people. Adult services tend to assume that these young people will take full responsibility and act appropriately in handling appointments, adhering to their medications, and restrain from risk-taking activity that may harm their health. Children’s services on the other hand may be over-involved and may take more responsibility than they should as the young person reaches thirteen or fourteen years old. These problems with preparation by children’s services and reception by adult services may mean that young people’s health may deteriorate when they transition if it is the case that they don’t know how to manage their health with this new responsibility.

Second, young people’s brains are still developing and likewise they are developing ‘socially’ i.e. they are very conscious of their peers. They also like to experiment and seek novelty. Such behaviours are true for everyone but the adolescent brain has a period when the regulation and inhibition of certain behaviours by the front part of the brain tends to be overridden by a rapidly developing part of the brain called the limbic system which determines emotions and reward seeking. This isn’t necessarily a problem but it may be a problem if a young person attends a party and wants to drink or smoke to the extent it interacts with their medical condition and affects their health. Or, they may avoid taking medications so that they can party and this could harm their health. Allan Colver highlights the need for practitioners to recognize this as potentially inevitable rather than pretend this won’t occur at all. Rather than telling them ‘not to do it’, practitioners should have honest dialogue and help the young person “do both” (i.e. party and take care of their health).

Read the full blog post here

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