physical health problems are at greater risk for MEB disorders (Kuehn, 2008; Wolraich, Drotar, et al., 2008). Associations have been demonstrated between MEB disorders and a number of chronic diseases. For example, one study showed that 16 percent of asthmatic youth ages 11-17 demonstrated criteria for anxiety and depressive disorders (McCauly, Katon, et al., 2007). Health professionals in both sectors contribute to the maintenance of good physical and good mental health.
Successful prevention is inherently interdisciplinary. The prevention of MEB disorders is inherently interdisciplinary and draws on a variety of different strategies. For example, strategies at multiple levels have led to effective tobacco control and reductions in underage drinking. These include broad interventions that address policy or regulation (product taxation, purchase and use age minimums, advertising restrictions), interventions that address community behaviors (blue laws, smoke-free workplaces), interventions within the legal system (fines for underage sales, lawsuits against manufacturers), and individually focused interventions both within and independent of the health care system (parents educating their children about smoking and drinking).
Mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders are developmental. The health status of young people has a significant influence on the trajectory of health into adulthood (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2004a). While research suggests that the earliest years of life are one of the most opportune times to affect change (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000), other developmental periods (e.g., early adolescence) or settings (e.g., schools) in young people’s lives also provide opportunities for intervention (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2001, 2002). Children develop in the context of their families (or, for some, the institutions that replace their families), their schools, and their communities.
Coordinated community-level systems are needed to support young people. Supporting the development of children requires that infrastructure be in place in one or more systems—public health, health care, education, community agencies—to support and finance culturally appropriate preventive interventions at multiple levels. Similarly, the benefits or savings of prevention may occur in a system (e.g., education, justice) other than the one that paid for the prevention activity (e.g., health), requiring a broad, community-wide perspective. For example, an outcome of a family-based preventive intervention delivered by the health care system may be children who are more successful academically or have fewer legal difficulties. Sharing costs and benefits of interventions across agencies and programs would likely create new opportunities for broad advances.