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Mental Health Services for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY): The Culture, The Practice, and The Role of Occupational Therapy

Mental Health Services for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY): The Culture, The Practice, and The Role of Occupational Therapy
Michelle Burlyga, MS, OTR/L
March 11, 2016


I am going to go over a basic review of some program structures, the impact on treatment from that TAY culture, as well as the diagnosis, and the main ones that we find within the TAY population. We will also talk about some of the primary theories and models that you find in the TAY population in mental health, as well as how they correlate with the occupational therapy models and theories. We will then talk about the specific OT role in mental health treatment and TAY services specifically.

I will also go through a very simple case study to show you an idea of what a TAY client would look like and help you brainstorm some strategies or ideas that OTs could do within that realm. Then, we will look at the future of occupational therapy in behavioral health programs, as well as the future of TAY programs. Finally, we will have some time for some Q&A and just to go over the summary of it. Again, please let me know if you have any questions.  I will do my best to answer. My contact information is also on the last slide. You are welcome to contact me for more information.

I love to share my knowledge and experience of working in a TAY population. This is an up and coming area, and I feel lucky to be working with the TAY population as an occupational therapist. There was a specific role for me, and I have expanded it. Hopefully from this, you will gain some knowledge and understanding of how to either develop a program or help gain access to a TAY program.

What is a TAY Program?

Most of the time in mental health we work with adults or older adults. There are also a lot of mental health programs for pediatrics and school-based children, but they seem to miss this in-between time. The TAY program is for transitional age youth. These are the ages somewhere between 14 and 24. Some programs can start as young as 10. A lot of them go up to about age 26, but a typical age range is about 14 to 24. This is when a youth is transitioning from a youth to a young adult, learning the new aspects of being an adult, and all of the fun and not so fun stuff that comes with that age. This is a huge population, and it is growing. There is a need for the support within this population.

A TAY program provides comprehensive mental health services for youth and young adults with a mental illness diagnosis. These services are often found in a clinic, but many are found in the community. The TAY population and their problems usually stem from the home setting with their families, in the school systems, or out in the community with their friends socializing. A lot of our services are provided in vivo; in the community, in the home, in the schools, as well as they come in for appointments for the clinic as well. 

Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24.

This is another reason why this early intervention and working with TAY is extremely important.


michelle burlyga

Michelle Burlyga, MS, OTR/L

Michelle Burlyga, MS, OTR/L earned her BSOT and MSOT from San Jose State University in 2007. She currently works as the Program Manager as well as OT for REACH, an outpatient prevention and early identification program for psychosis at Momentum for Mental Health. While managing both REACH and the TAY Drop In Center, she recently developed and initiated the agency’s first OT internship program at her site and continues to advocate for integration of OT services throughout the agency. Michelle currently serves as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, working as an occupational therapist for a Combat Stress Control unit in Southern California and has gained professional experience through prior inpatient mental health, skilled nursing and pediatric positions. She is passionate about advocating for increased OT awareness and integrated services within all behavioral health fields and happily spends much of her time presenting both knowledge and visions to current and future healthcare professionals.


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