Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth, and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Children and Families, Health Care Workforce, Health Services, Coverage, and Access, Select Populations and Health Equity, Substance Use and Mental Health
Board: Board on Children, Youth, and Families

Activity Description

Mental health and substance use disorders among children, youth, and young adults are major threats to the health and well-being of younger populations which often carryover into adulthood. The costs of treatment for mental health and addictive disorders, which create an enormous burden on the affected individuals, their families, and society, have stimulated increasing interest in prevention practices that can impede the onset or reduce the severity of the disorders. Prevention practices have emerged in a variety of settings, including programs for selected at-risk populations (such as children and youth in the child welfare system), school-based interventions, interventions in primary care settings, and community services designed to address a broad array of mental health needs and populations. Despite support from many providers and advocates, funding levels for prevention and mental health promotion services frequently remain low when compared to services for treatment and residential placements. Interest has continued to grow, however, in improving the rigor and effectiveness of preventive interventions that can mitigate or eliminate the onset of selected disorders, especially during early stages of development. Similarly, interest has increased in promoting prevention practices as well as fostering interventions that can lead to positive mental health among children, youth, and young adults.

This study was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The committee was asked, in part, to update a 1994 IOM report, Reducing Risks for Mental Disorders, with special attention to the research base and program experience with younger populations that has emerged since that time. Five committee meetings were held along with one public workshop. A final committee consensus report was released in March 2009.

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