Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Foster children-Mental health services, Young adults-Mental health services, Foster children-Attitudes, Foster care, Transition, Mental health, Self-reported, Foster youth, Former foster youth, Qualitative research


This qualitative study explores the self-reported perspectives of thirteen transitional aged (18-24 years old) current and former foster youth on their experiences with mental health services. This study fills a gap in mental health research that lacks substantial literature on the experiences of foster youth transitioning out of care, effectiveness of their mental health services and of foster youth's voices as consumers. This study aims to inform practice for clinicians and social workers referring or providing mental health services to current and or former foster youth. Clinicians and social workers can use their positions to provide and advocate for accessible and quality mental health treatment for this population and can support them to advocate for themselves when navigating mental health care. Self-reported decision-making process, service experience, opinions and motivations to seek treatment post-care are explored through qualitative interviews with thirteen adult participants in this study. The findings of this project reveal that participants' value autonomy, a caring relationship, feeling heard or understood and highlighted challenges to accessing mental health due to mental health stigma and mystification. Limitations and implications of the findings are discussed




66 pages : illustration. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-55)