An estimated 25,000 to 28,000 older teens transition out of foster care each year in the United States.

The findings provide an updated look at counseling and medication use among teens in foster care, and reports on how prepared 17-year-olds feel to manage their mental health as they near adulthood.

Researchers interviewed hundreds of 17-year-olds in the California foster care system for the new study.

“As far as we know, this is the first study to ask 17-year-olds in foster care how prepared they feel to manage their mental health,” writes Michelle Munson, professor in the Silver School of Social Work at New York University.

“These results are important as the [child welfare] field continues to develop new supports for older youth in foster care, and as society continues to strive to help individuals increasingly maintain their mental health in young adulthood.”

Rising rates of mental health symptoms among children and adolescents is a matter of widespread concern.

Not surprisingly, mental disorders are elevated among youth in foster care. Among them, the transition to adulthood has proved especially difficult and challenging. One contributing factor is the curtailment of support from professional child welfare and mental health workers in the youth’s life.

Read the full article about foster care teens and mental health by Robert Polner at Futurity.