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Youth & Young Adult Mental Health Group

Who We Are

The Youth and Young Adulth Mental Health Group (YYAMH-G) is a group of invested partners dedicated to understanding the transition to adulthood among vulnerable populations of youth and young adults, and learning how to make the transition more successful for more young people. More specifically, we draw on the expertise of individuals from across the United States to develop the following: 1) knowledge, 2) practice approaches, and 3) implementation strategies. We utilize mixed-method research. All of our work is guided by the YYAMH-G Advisory Group.


To improve the lives of vulnerable populations of youth and young adults with mental health challenges, and improve the lives of those around them.


We are dedicated to achieving three goals:

  1. Decrease unmet mental health need among youth and young adults.
  2. Improve outcomes for youth and young adults with mental health challenges.
  3. Decrease mental health stigma.


We work to achieve these goals by executing the following objectives:

  1. Research: Conduct systematic and rigorous mixed-methods research
  2. Dissemination: Develop, disseminate, and study the implementation of efficacious interventions
  3. Advocacy: Support communities (i.e., professionals, families, and young adults) in managing the transition to living well with a mental illness


Current Group Members

Michelle R. Munson | (212) 992-9731
LMSW, PhD, Director/Faculty
Michelle Munson_Pic

Dr. Michelle R. Munson is an associate professor of social work, with professional interests in mental health services and interventions research, marginalized populations of youth and young adults, and interpersonal relationships. Dr. Munson is interested in the role professionals and mentors play in improving the engagement in, and actual mental health and social service use behaviors necessary for a more positive transition to adulthood and a productive adult life. Her recent research suggests that important others (e.g., parents, peers, partners, professionals, mentors) influence how youth and young adults 'narrate' (subjectively make meaning of) their lives and their overall mental health.

James Jaccard | (212) 998-5906
PhD, Faculty

Dr. James Jaccard is a professor of social work with a long history of collaborating with social work and public health to help resolve significant behavioral health challenges among youth and young adults within complex organizations and low-resourced communities. He is an expert in attitude change, decision-making and communication strategies, among others.

Andrea Cole | 212-992-6658
PhD, LCSW, Research Scientist

Andrea Cole, LCSW is a doctoral candidate at the Silver School of Social Work. She has been engaged in practice and research focused on youth and young adult mental health for over 10 years. Her primary areas of research interest are young adult PTSD, community violence exposure, and intervention research. 


Melissa Villodas |
LMSW, YYAMH-G Project Director

Melissa Villodas, LMSW is an alumna of the Silver School of Social Work. She is currently working at Cayuga Centers as a Therapist in Treatment Family Foster Care. Her interests in both practice and research include youth and young adult’s development and transition into adulthood, as well as the challenges pertaining to youth aging-out care.

Kiara Moore |
PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow

Kiara Moore, PhD, LCSW is an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at New York University Silver School of Social Work. With several years of clinical practice with adolescents and young adults, her primary areas of interest are mental health disparities and intervention research. Her current research focuses on identity development, mental health service utilization, and sexual, gender, and ethnic-racial minority youth and young adults.

Luis Ramierz | 212-998-4783
Doctoral Student

Luis Ramirez is a PhD student at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. He joined Dr. Munson's Staying Healthy Feeling Good project in 2015 as a research assistant. His areas of interest include LGBTQ issues, sex work, and the mental health consequences of stigma and oppression.

Rei Shimizu |
Doctoral Student

Rei Shimizu is a doctoral student at NYU Silver School of Social Work. She has a clinical background in trauma-focused therapy for survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the United States and Japan. Her research interest is in health behaviors, specifically focusing on decision making related to food preferences and eating behavior and its intersections with trauma for low-income women.

Kristin Pleines |

Kristin Pleines is an LCSW with extensive experience working with children, adolescents, and adults impacted by trauma, particularly domestic violence. She is a member of NYU's DSW program and will be graduating in 2019. Kristin is interested in enhancing mental health services for high-need populations. She is especially interested in trauma-informed care as well as trauma-informed supervision of clinicians and staff.

Aaron Rodwin |
MSW candidate

Aaron Rodwin is a second-year MSW candidate at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. His research and clinical interests include serious mental illness primarily among Young Adults and the use of music, specifically Hip-Hop as a culturally responsive therapeutic vehicle to engage, empower, and foster well-being in clinical practice. Aaron is also a Research Assistant at Columbia University-N.Y State Psychiatric Institute and will be involved with Dr. Munson’s Youth and Young Adult Mental Health Group (YYAMG-G) in the Fall of 2017 as part of a Research Independent Study.

Xiuyun Miao |
MSW Candidate

Xiuyun(Sharon) Miao, BSW, is an MSW candidate at the New York University Silver School of Social Work. She is a member of Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work - Pi Pi Chapter. She will start her second-year field placement as a social work intern at Mental Health Bridge Program at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. Her research focuses on children and adolescent’s mental health, in particular, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) treatment for youth.

Redell Creary |
Research Staff

Redell Creary is a Peer Support Specialist at the Institute for Community Living. He is also an artist and cartoonist. And he has enjoyed working with NYU to develop the position of Recovery Role Model Mentor for transition-age youth and young adults


We have a wide variety of projects underway at the YYAMH-G. Please feel free to click on the links below to read more about any of these projects, and/or contact us regarding any of this work.

Recent Publications

  1. Munson, M.R., Brown, S., Spencer, R., Tracy, E., & *Edguer, M. (in press). Supportive Relationships During the Transition to Adulthood among Former System Youth. Journal of Adolescent Research.
  2. Munson, M.R., *Cole, A. Jaccard, J., Kranke, D., Farkas, K., & Frese, F. (in press). Just Do You: An Engagement Intervention for Young Adults Utilizing Recovery Role Models. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11414-014-9424-9
  3. Narendorf, S., Munson, M. R., & Levingston, F. (in press). Managing moods and parenting: Perspectives of Former System Youth who Struggle with Emotional Challenges. Children and Youth Services Review.
  4. Munson, M. R., Lee, B. R., Miller, D., Cole, A., & Nedelcu, C. (2013). Emerging Aduilthood among Former System Youth: The Ideal Versus the Real. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 923-929.
  5. Munson, M. R., Jaccard, J., Smalling, S. E., Kim, H., Werner, J. J., & Scott, L. D., Jr. (2012). Static, Dynamic, Integrated and Contextualized: A Framework for Understanding Mental Health Service Use among Young Adults. Social Science and Medicine, 75(8), 1441-1449
  6. Munson, M. R., Floersch, J. E., & Townsend, L. (2010). Are health beliefs related to adherence among adolescents living with mood disorders? Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 37(5), 408-416