Free Online Training on Pathways to Adulthood

Diverse young adults.

Grantees of the Family and Youth Services Bureau frequently serve transition age youth who are living with mental health challenges. Frontline staff need a broad set of skills to address the unique needs of emerging adults who may be living with illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures at Portland State University developed an educational initiative, “Promoting Positive Pathways to Adulthood (PPPA)” to address this need.

By registering their email address and completing a pre- and post-training survey, staff can access ten hour-long training modules designed for professionals who work with youth, ages 14 to 29, who are living with mental illness. Incorporating concepts from positive youth development, the curriculum helps youth workers strengthen their skills within a supportive framework.

To help facilitators present the curriculum, the research and training center created the Pathways Transition Training Toolkit (PDF, 2.2 MB). For each module facilitators can choose from a variety of skill-building activities including practice scenarios, discussion questions, and role plays.

Here are some highlights from three of the ten learning modules:

Increasing cultural competency. Module 3 emphasizes skills staff can use to work with youth from diverse populations. In this module, the training focuses on these skills within the context of working with Native American youth. With the understanding that the development of cultural competency is a process of increasing awareness, the module encourages staff to reflect on their own cultural values while exploring the cultures of other populations. The module also invites learners to understand young people’s mental health within the context of historical oppression and intergenerational trauma.

Addressing developmental needs of young people with trauma histories. Module 6 builds staff members’ capacity to meet youth where they are by viewing their needs through the lenses of trauma-informed care and brain development. Encouraging staff to tailor services to each young person’s individual needs, the module includes an outline of how to screen their clients for past trauma and how to engage them in services. Staff are encouraged to implement interventions that are culturally competent and address discrimination.

Engaging family members, peers, and mentors. Module 9 guides staff through the process of engaging people from young people’s circles of support in ways that match clients’ preferences. Staff learn how to support youth in maintaining their circle of support and how family members are affected by a young person’s mental illness and recovery journey. For example, parents may become frustrated if they are excluded from their child’s appointments when the young person has reached the age of legal decision making.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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