The Center on Young Adult Health and Development (CYAHD) was established in 2009 at the School of Public Health on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland and is the first such center in the United States specifically dedicated to understanding the health and development of young adults. Young adulthood is a neglected developmental period in the health sciences, relative to childhood, adolescence and older adulthood. This disparity is unfortunate because several important health issues affect young adults disproportionately. For instance, many health risk behaviors are more prevalent in young adulthood than in any other developmental period. Also, several chronic health conditions--including substance use disorders, depression, and obesity—have their onset during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

From a historical perspective, the concept of young adulthood--that is, the period of time after adolescence during which an individual is still dependent upon his/her caregivers for financial and emotional support--has expanded beyond the teenage years and well into the twenties. Given the relatively recent emergence of young adulthood as a truly distinct developmental stage, there is a need to learn more about what supports are required to successfully complete the psychological transition to adulthood and near-complete autonomy. Therefore, the overarching goal of CYAHD is to bring much-needed attention to this underrepresented area of study, and advance a research agenda to further our knowledge regarding a broad spectrum of issues affecting young adult health and development. Under this broad goal, CYAHD recognizes the following three focus areas.

  1. To deepen our understanding of the development and consequences of health-risk behaviors among young adults.
  2. To understand health and help-seeking behaviors of young adults, attitudes regarding their own physical and mental health, and barriers to health care access and utilization.
  3. To understand how technological advances have impacted the social, physical, and emotional health of adolescents and the transition to young adulthood.

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