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Innovation Story

Clinic Helps Young People Launch

Thanks to the Transition Age Youth Clinic, young people with mental health needs can find support to manage life’s challenges and live independently.

Clinic Helps Young People Launch

Too often, young people in their late teens and early 20s face a rocky path to adulthood with challenges around big decisions. They must weigh career choices and education options while learning how to become self-sufficient and navigate healthy relationships.

“Even before the pandemic, this was a vulnerable population, and it’s a population that has suffered uniquely during this time.”

This is also the age (15–24) that many mental health conditions emerge. “It’s a really important time to intervene and promote access to mental health care,” says Stephen Tourjee, MD, associate director of the Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Helping Young People Thrive

One of the first of its kind in the country, the TAY Clinic launched in 2014 to address the unmet mental health needs of young people. Most patients are college students or Boston area residents having a hard time with the transition to college or independent living. A number of patients suffer from “Failure to Launch” syndrome, struggling to function independently and separate appropriately from their parents.

Yoshio Kaneko, MD, and Stephen Tourjee, MD
Yoshio Kaneko, MD, and Stephen Tourjee, MD

“Even before the pandemic, this was a vulnerable population, and it’s a population that has suffered uniquely during this time,” says Yoshio Kaneko, MD, director of the TAY Clinic.

The doctors are optimistic that post-pandemic life will promote well-being. “It will allow them to access services again, socialize more and become more confident,” says Dr. Tourjee. “It’s still going to be quite the transition for them, heading into the fall. It’s not really over yet.”

Training Expands Access to Mental Health Care

In the clinic, post-graduate adult psychiatry residents evaluate patients under the close supervision of Drs. Kaneko and Tourjee. They interview patients and their parents, review treatment records, and consult with outside providers as needed before making a diagnosis and treatment plan.

“One of our goals is to broaden the pool of general psychiatrists trained to care for this specific population,” Dr. Kaneko explains, given the ongoing shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists.

“When a young adult is struggling in this way, the family as a whole is often struggling, too.”

Says Timothy Wilens, MD, chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Stephen and Yosh are outstanding clinicians who are helping teach the next generation of practitioners.” 

Philanthropy Makes this Work Possible

Citing the tremendous demand for mental health services for this age group, Dr. Wilens says that more resources will increase access and add other clinicians like psychotherapists. The team is grateful for the ongoing commitment of the George Frederick Jewett Foundation East and other generous supporters.

Future goals include working with local colleges; developing educational programs; expanding residency training and research studies; and adding family component. Says Dr. Kaneko, “When a young adult is struggling in this way, the family as a whole is often struggling, too.”

To learn more about the TAY Clinic or to make a donation, please contact us.

by
Mary Hurley
August 11, 2021