Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

CAREER PLANNING and TRANSITION for STUDENTS with MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: Integrated Services at K-12 Settings

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

CAREER PLANNING and TRANSITION for STUDENTS with MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: Integrated Services at K-12 Settings

Article excerpt

Work plays a central role in an individuals' life and self-identity (Blustein, 2006). To prepare all students to be ready for post-secondary planning and transition to work is a primary task for school counselors at K-12 settings (ASCA, 2004). Despite the widely accepted acknowledgement of the importance of career intervention for planning and transition, services for K-12 students are still lacking. Further, there are scarce resources for students with disabilities with regard to career intervention programs, activities and strategies (Carter, Trainor, Cakiroglu, Swedeen & Owens, 2010). This paper aims at a) illustrating the challenges and needs of students with disabilities with a focus on mental health issues as well as the best practices for transition services from the literature, and b) making recommendations for school counselors and practitioners to integrate services for effective transition planning.

Employment as a critical transition need

Employment is closely related to various dimensions of quality of life and has been recognized as a critical aspect of adulthood (Rogan, Grossi & Gajewski, 2002). Transition from school to work has been identified and included as an essential pillar in all types of transition models (Will, M., 1984; Halpern, A., 1985). The importance of transition to employment is also evident by the federal legislation movement, which directs educational programs to promote employment opportunities and outcomes for individuals with disabilities, such as the landmark legislation of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990, and School to Work Opportunities Act of 1994. Particularly, the reauthorized IDEA 2004 placed greater emphasis on post-school outcomes, which requires that no later than age 16, the IEP must include "appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills" and the transition services "needed to assist the child in reaching those goals" (IDEA, 2004, p. 14).

Population and Transition Issues

Unquestionably, transition to employment is one of the major transition needs for students with mental health issues. Different terms and definitions are used to describe people with mental health conditions. For example, in the mental health system, the 1993 definition of "serious emotional disturbance" developed by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is used to describe the population (Wagner, Kutash, Duchnowski, & Epstein, 2005). In the education sys- tem, under IDEA'04, the term "Emotional Disturbance (ED)" is used to represent children and youth who have mental health issues (e.g., emotional, behavioral or mental disorders) and who need emotional and behavioral support. The category includes a wide range of specific conditions with a variety of diagnoses and classifications in different service systems, such as schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and other psychiatric disorders (APA, 2013; Karpur, Clark, Caproni, & Sterner, 2005). Children and youth who are classified as having emotional disturbance represent the fourth largest category in special education. The percentage of children who are classified as emotional disturbance has increased substantially from 0.6 per cent since 1976 to 0.8 per cent in 2011 with a 33 per cent raise (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, 2012).

Youth with ED tend to experience persistent challenges during transition to adulthood. Many children with ED will develop more physical and mental health issues when transitioning from youth to adulthood as they learn to take more responsibilities and develop essential competencies for future independency. The major challenge for this population is the ability to control their emotional needs and behaviors. …

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