Our Challenge: Defining the clinical, organizational and public health problem of TRANSITION

Transition to adulthood is the period of onset of some of the most serious mental disorders that can disable or kill in adult life. The current service configuration of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) has been repeatedly identified as the weakest link where the care pathway should be most robust; the resulting discontinuity of care is a major socioeconomic and societal challenge for the EU. 

Optimal transition is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary, process continuing on into adult care, marked by joint responsibilities in multidisciplinary planning, co-ordination of care and ideally, the active involvement of the young person needing to make a transition.

In recent years, transitional care has become an important focus for policy and practice across health care systems, since problems which arise at interface are not specialty or disorder specific, but embody common challenges for paediatric and adult health services. In addition, young people undergoing transition are negotiating a developmental transition from childhood to adulthood, which generates needs beyond health and which for example, may include social care, education, housing and employment services.

In the next 10 years, mental health problems are expected to increase among children and youth, with current predictions estimating at least 50% increase in incidence rates. Undoubtedly some of these young people will have problems that persist into adulthood, for which reason, it is crucial that we get transition ‘right’. 

Not only does this represent one of the most important ways that we can facilitate recovery, it also provides a key avenue for prevention of chronic and enduring mental illness, with potential for enormous cost savings.