patterns for depression or cognitive deficits for schizophrenia. In addition, nonspecific factors, such as poverty and aversive experiences in families (e.g., marital conflict, poor parenting), schools (e.g., school failure, poor peer relations), and communities (e.g., violence), have been shown to increase the risk for developing most MEB disorders and problems.

A more recent science base has solidified around the concept of developmental competencies that could inform the development of future interventions focused on the promotion of mental, emotional, and behavioral health.

Conclusion: Interventions designed to prevent MEB disorders and problems and those designed to promote mental, emotional, and behavioral health both frequently involve directly strengthening children’s competencies and positive mental health or strengthening families, schools, or communities. However, improved knowledge pertaining to the conceptualization and assessment of developmental competencies is needed to better inform interventions.

The ways in which developmental competencies operate in a health-promoting capacity is less well understood, and additional research is needed to develop common measures that can be used in intervention research.

Recommendation 4-1: Research funders led by the National Institutes of Health, should increase funding for research on the etiology and development of competencies and healthy functioning of young people, as well as how healthy functioning protects against the development of MEB disorders.


Recommendation 4-2: The National Institutes of Health should develop measures of developmental competencies and positive mental health across developmental stages that are comparable to measures used for MEB disorders. These measures should be developed in consultation with leading research and other key stakeholders and routinely used in mental health promotion intervention studies.

Current knowledge on the development of MEB disorders among young people and characteristics of healthy development suggest the need for multiple lines of inquiry for future preventive intervention research.



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