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Many mental health issues often emerge during an individual’s early twenties, with the onset of most mental illnesses peaking from ages 18-21. In addition, as brain development continues through the period of young adulthood, college-age individuals can benefit from treatment and resources pointed at this age group.
At the same time, the college experience can be challenging for individuals who are co-managing mental health issues and the rigors of academic life. Today, more than ever, college students with proper support, skills, and symptom education are thriving while learning to cope with mental health and adjustment issues.
Learn more about care options at McLean along with resources and more information specific to young adults.
Each year, more than 600 college students are treated at McLean Hospital. These young people come from more than 200 different colleges and universities to address a broad range of issues and psychiatric illnesses.
McLean offers treatment for an array of diagnoses including depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and addiction, and we also provide specialty treatment programs focusing on emerging psychotic disorders and their accompanying symptoms. Our full complement of inpatient, outpatient, residential, and partial hospital services helps young adults and their families cope with mental health conditions and the challenges they often bring.
State-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment is tailored to each individual’s needs and focuses on symptom reduction and skills development. Patients and their families benefit from our range of treatment programs as well as access to consultation services from specialties throughout the hospital.
Dependent on age and diagnosis, a number of our programs for adolescents or adults may be appropriate for young adult patients. Information on all of McLean’s care options may be found on our Treatment page.
These programs offer services or specialty tracks specifically designed for young adults.
3East DBT Programs
These intensive programs are ideal for adolescents ages 13 to 20 who require treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary clinicians have chosen to specialize in working with this patient population and are dedicated to treating young people to address their individual challenges to help them make positive changes in their lives.
Accommodations Testing Service
Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow students with academic or learning difficulties to complete the same assignments as other students. Students with learning issues or anxiety may require special arrangements for standardized exams like the SAT or MCAT.
College Mental Health Program
This unique service is for college students facing mental illnesses and adjustment issues. A diverse range of options help students address concerns such as executive functioning, anxiety, depression, OCD, eating concerns, and substance misuse. The CMHP team works collaboratively with students and their families to provide and implement individualized recommendations based on the student’s unique needs and goals.
Klarman Eating Disorders Center
Founded with the generous support of the Klarman Family Foundation, the program provides state-of-the-art treatment for young women ages 16 to 26. This residential and partial hospital program specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Recognizing that each young woman has a distinct set of issues that contribute to her eating disorder, we also understand that many also struggle with co-occurring mental health problems such as addiction, depression, mood and anxiety disorders, and trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
This outpatient program provides the best possible care for young adults in the early stages of psychotic disorders. At McLean, we understand that experiencing psychosis, especially first episode psychosis, can be a period of great uncertainty for patients and their families. McLean OnTrack specializes in early recognition and treatment for young adults ages 18 to 30 who have had their first episode of psychosis during the previous year. The years immediately following the onset of psychosis represent a critical period, and early intervention during this time is important for good long-term results.
Support, Treatment, and Resilience (STAR) Program
The STAR Program delivers high-quality outpatient care to teens and young adults ages 14-25 who are at risk of psychotic illnesses. The program offers individual therapy and psychiatric treatment for young people who are experiencing changes that impact thinking, emotions, behavior, and functioning. Although changes like these do not always indicate a first episode of psychiatric illness, they may place a person at increased risk of developing psychosis.
Find more information about young adult mental health treatment at McLean:
Though some mental health conditions can begin at any age, some, like psychosis and bipolar disorder, are more likely to start in the period of young adulthood, a time when many young people are making transitions in their lives, starting or continuing college, finding new jobs, and living independently without the safety net of their families. These changes can be stressful for any college-age individual, and often more so for young adults who are co-managing an ongoing or new mental health diagnosis and academic life.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 75% of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24. One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. The brain is still developing and this may be the cause of the onset of some mental health conditions in college-age men and women.
Learn more about some of the conditions that McLean treats:
What Is Addiction?
Substance misuse, or addiction to drugs or alcohol, is a recognized medical brain disorder. This illness refers to the misuse of illegal or legal substances such as alcohol, opiates, cocaine, marijuana, and so on. Substance misuse causes serious problems at work, school, in relationships, and with the law.
What Is Anxiety?
If you tend to worry a lot, even when there’s no reason, you may have anxiety. It may be something you are so used to that you may think it’s just “how you are.” Common worries include health, money, family, or work. While everyone worries about these things once in a while, if you always expect the worst, it can get in the way of living a normal life.
What Are Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia?
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality and can experience hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking, and these symptoms can be very disabling.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Mental health experts agree that the name “borderline personality disorder” (BPD) can be misleading; however, a more accurate term does not yet exist. The good news is that when BPD is accurately diagnosed, treatment can be successful and individuals can go on to lead meaningful and productive lives.
What Is Depression?
Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times. However, depression is more intense and harder to manage than normal feelings of sadness. Left untreated, depression can be a debilitating illness for individuals and their families. Often, symptoms are not recognized for their severity and can worsen, and severe depression may lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.
What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders happen as a result of severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as unhealthy reduction of food intake or extreme overeating. These patterns can be caused by feelings of distress or concern about body shape or weight, and they harm normal body composition and function. A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control.
What Is OCD?
OCD is a common anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). With treatment, many find relief from these symptoms.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma knows no boundaries. It affects people of every background, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Research has shown that traumatic experiences are associated with both behavioral and physical health conditions, especially trauma that occurs during childhood. With proper care, individuals can recover from psychological trauma and learn to heal and manage their symptoms.
Find access to organizations that support mental health and learn more about education resources and books on mental health conditions:
The following organizations and guides offer resources specific to college-age mental health:
If you or someone you know needs help:
These organizations also offer suicide prevention resources:
McLean offers treatment for individuals throughout the life span: