Supportive Relationships Among Former System Youth With Mental Health Challenges

Michelle R. Munson, Suzanne Brown, Renee Spencer, Marjorie Edguer, Elizabeth Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored the supportive relationships that former system youth (FSY; e.g., foster care) with mental health challenges identified as “key” in making the transition to adulthood. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 59 FSY, ages 18 to 25, with mental health challenges. Participants were asked to reflect on their relationships with a key helper or what the literature defines as a natural mentor, “an adult that has been particularly helpful, or supportive,” in this case with their mental health. Seventy-six percent (N = 45) of the participants identified a key helper. Relationship qualities that emerged as salient to successful transition included consistency, mutuality, and empathy. The nature of support received included emotional, informational, and tangible support. Implications for research, practice, and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-529
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 12 2015


  • mental health
  • natural mentors
  • social support
  • transition to adulthood
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Supportive Relationships Among Former System Youth With Mental Health Challenges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this