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Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities
Nursing. Nursing education is generally completed in two (associate’s degree) or four years (bachelor’s degree; eligibility for licensure as a registered nurse). Increasing numbers of nursing students become nurse practitioners with advanced degrees, either a master’s or a doctor of nursing practice. A number of nursing students are obtaining Ph.D.s, acquiring nursing research skills, and working in academic or research settings. Nursing school curricula stress prevention concepts, but most devote little time to prevention of MEB disorders. One effort has been the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training at the University of Washington, a national program to train nurses and other health care professionals to assess parent–child relationships in community settings.26 Psychiatric nurses (more than 18,000; Institute of Medicine, 2006b) usually have added training or a graduate degree and are certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. There are more than 20 university-based master’s degree programs in psychiatric nursing, many having specialty tracks specific to child and adolescent psychiatric nursing, and a certification process for child/adolescent psychiatric nursing. As with other health care professions, advanced training does not uniformly target prevention. However, there are innovative efforts, such as a 2008 HRSA award to the College of Nursing at Arizona State University for the multidisciplinary online training program called KySS (Keep Your Child/Yourself Safe, and Secure), focused on screening, identifying, and delivering evidence-based intervention for youth experiencing common MEB problems.27 Prevention training related to MEB disorders in nursing is an important opportunity.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counseling. Substance abuse counselors and mental health counselors together comprise the largest group of mental health professionals. Numbers of mental health counselors alone approach 120,000, and half of the personnel delivering substance use treatment are substance abuse counselors (Institute of Medicine, 2006b). Coursework and practical experience requirements vary between these two groups, across state lines, and from program to program. Licensure or certification is required by some states, more for mental health than for substance abuse counselors. Requirements for coursework or practicum experience, when they are specified, do not include exposure or experience related to preventive aspects of MEB disorders (Kerwin, Walker-Smith, and Kirby, 2006). The content of continuing education is largely unspecified and does not require that preventive aspects of MEB disorders be addressed. While many states have certified preventionist positions in the area of substance abuse