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.

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.

Kamilyah Cooper |

Kamilyah Cooper, LCSW is an alumna of the Silver School of Social Work. For over a decade she has worked with young people of color who have severe and persistent mental health diagnoses. Her previous experience has been centered on combining her two passions: destigmazting mental health diagnoses in marginalized communities and working with young people of color who have experienced trauma.

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

Andrea Cole, PhD, LCSW is Research Scientist with the Youth and Young Adult Mental Health Research Group. Andrea completed her PhD at New York University Silver School of Social Work in 2017. Her research interests include youth and young adult trauma, exposure to community violence, intervention research, and implementation science.


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 |
LMSW, Research Assistant

Aaron Rodwin, LMSW, is Research Assistant with interests in the development and treatment of
serious mental health conditions among Young Adults. Aaron is interested in the use of
innovative intervention strategies that harness the power of music and the creative arts in a
therapeutic capacity as a culturally responsive vehicle to foster engagement, empowerment,
and well-being in clinical practice. Aaron is also involved with research at Columbia University-
NYS Psychiatric Institute and is a Therapist at Douglas Psychotherapy Services.

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

Angel Amaro |
Research Assistant

Angel Amaro is a second-year MSW candidate at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW).  He is currently part of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program at CUSSW and will intern at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry reunifying foster care youth with their families.  Angel worked extensively with individuals whom were homeless and diagnosed with mental illness and is interested in working with Latinos with Serious Mental Illness.

Lindsay Marie Hylek |
Research Assistant

Lindsay Hylek has BA in Psychology and Anthropology from Colby College and is currently pursing a MSW at Columbia University. She is also an Integrated Trauma Studies Program candidate at the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy. Prior to joining YYAMH-G, she was a Research Assistant in Colby's Personality Lab, MGH's Depression Clinical and Research Program, and OHSU's Translational Research of Adolescent Change Lab. She is particularly interested in 1. the impact of developmental trauma on the transition to adulthood and 2. holistic approaches to youth and young adult mental health treatment, including the use of expressive therapies, yoga and meditation, and ecotherapy.

Former Group Members

Melissa Villodas |
LMSW, YYAMH-G, Doctoral Student UNC

Melissa Villodas, LMSW is currently a PhD student at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Melissa is an alumna of NYU’s Silver School of Social Work and a former YYAMH-G member. She has clinical experience working with individuals with mood disorders in foster care and integrated health care settings. Her research interests include youth and young adult identity formation and its effect on mental health wellness during the transition to adulthood. Additionally, she is interested in policy improvement for marginalized youth and young adults in urban communities of color.

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.

Shelly Ben-David | 212-998-4293
MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor


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