Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Parents of Young Adults Who Struggle

Name of Innovative Program: 
Parents of Young Adults Who Struggle
Sponsoring Organization
Parents of Young Adults Who Struggle
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Nancy L. Wolf
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
With the assistance of our participants, I would like to replicate - within the Washington, D.C. area - our unique support group, "Parents of Young Adults (ages 14 to 30) Who Struggle" with a variety of behavioral health conditions en route to independent adulthood. As a volunteer with Active Minds, I realized that there was an unmet need for support, the sharing of strategies and resources for parents of these young adults with conditions that typically emerge in the young adult years. We have met monthly and our meetings are open to the entire community - not to discuss our kids' diagnoses but to focus on how we, as parents are coping with the stress and the stigma. How much support should we provide and when should step back and let our kids' learn to move forward, or not, on their own. I have facilitated the group and have watched as some participants stay and others are able to "graduate". Our kids have also benefited from having parents with knowledge, strength and a non-judgmental place for support.  
Creativity and Innovation: 
To the best of my knowledge, we are the first group of our kind. Parents only. No siblings or family members. We are not a standard support group. We focus on ourselves as parents of young adults with behavioral conditions - to educate each other, to reduce stigma and learn "how do I deal with ____" from each other. There may be other broader-mission groups with drop-in participants sponsored by mental health organizations with their own goals. But we are parent-organized, parent-driven and focused on the specific young adult age group. 
Our group is parent-led using our own energy and resources to influence each other, our friends, our colleagues and all of the people we come into contact with in our communities to promote young adult mental health awareness, to advocate for resources and to fight against stigma. Beyond the purposes we have already identified, our group has discussed other future goals such as creating housing, supported employment and other services for under-served young adults with behavioral conditions that bounce from college to college, from home to the street, from program to program and treatment to treatment.
Our group has a regular core of participants -parents who are themselves therapists, journalists, IT managers, teachers, homemakers- all eager to work together to replicate our group in other locations and with other supporting organizations (neighborhood groups, schools, churches and synagogues, etc.)in the D.C. area. We have back up resources from my synagogue where we meet - and the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA)in Rockville, M.D. which has expressed an interest in spreading our work to the larger community.
See above -we have the resources and knowledge to help others in our community create and grow similar groups for parents of young adults in our area. We can build relationships with other groups and create a network that will make us all stronger.  From the phone calls, emails and contacts we have made, we know there are may parents in the D.C. area with young adults who struggle who are looking for the services and support we provide.
We are an open group and welcome to all.Our target population are parents of young adults who primary have mental health diagnoses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety and related conditions-- bewildered parents with kids who have emerging conditions and parents of young adults who have chronic and/or non-compliant conditions. But we have seen our group have a larger appeal to parents of young adults with dual diagnoses, ADHD , substance abuse and personality disorders among other things. The commonality that we share is that we are parents in an area where high achievement is expected so the behavioral health condition of a young adult that derails him or her from the "track" can a particular isolating challenge.we can develop metrics to measure outcomes based on the # of participants we reach, our # of groups, our ability to raise public awareness, our impact on participants and their young adults.