LaToya Patterson

Bridging the Gap: Mental Health Services for Adolescents Discharging from Acute Psychiatric Hospitals


Mental health is an important component of overall health in children and adolescents. Due to various reasons, a high level of care is often needed to address mental health concerns. Acute psychiatric hospitalization is often necessary to evaluate, stabilize and treat adolescents with severe mental illnesses. Understanding the need of mental health resources and ensuring that those resources are readily available for adolescents after discharging from acute psychiatric hospitals is critical. Following hospital discharge, psychiatric aftercare enhances and maintains recovery by addressing psychological factors that contribute to mental illness, boosting psychosocial support, enhancing medication compliance, and offering prompt attention to illness exacerbations. Currently adolescents may experience a gap in mental health service for various reasons. This capstone will explore current discharge processes, possible reasons for delays in mental health services; and present the possible solution of stakeholders from involved agencies developing agency-based policies that would utilize the convenience of school based mental health services as a means to provide a continuum of care for adolescents discharging from acute psychiatric hospitals.


LaToya Patterson is a livelong learner and advocate for mental health. She has 11+ years of experience working with youth diagnosed with mental health disorders. She is currently a Doctor of Social Work Candidate with a concentration in Administration and Leadership at the University of Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology in 2012 from the University of South Alabama. She earned a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2015 and as well as a Master of Science in Social Work in 2017, both from Troy University.

LaToya has worked for the Alabama Department of Mental Health since 2019 and serves as the program coordinator for school-based mental health services. LaToya has also served as a case manager for children outpatient services and a school social worker within the public school setting. Her research focuses on exploring the delay in follow up treatment services for adolescents discharging from acute psychiatric hospitals. This research was motivated by the obstacles adolescents encounter while attempting to access the continuum of care for mental health services.

LaToya strives to network with individuals from various backgrounds and occupations to obtain fresh insights into unmet needs and strategies for supporting mental health. When LaToya is not advocating for mental wellness, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.