. "13 Toward an Improved Approach to Prevention." Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
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Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities
sional associations), and key researchers to develop and implement a strategic approach to the promotion of mental, emotional, and behavioral coordinating and health and the prevention of MEB disorders and related problem behaviors in young people. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Justice should be accountable for coordinating and aligning their resources, programs, and initiatives with this strategic approach and for encouraging their state and local counterparts to do the same.
One of the first tasks would be to establish specific, measurable goals for the next 10 years (see Recommendation 13-1) and a strategy to support the accomplishment of goals. In establishing goals, consideration should be given to the prevalence of disorders, costs associated with those disorders, and the strength of the evidence that the disorder is preventable. Promising areas include the prevention of depression, substance abuse, and conduct disorder. Existing surveys provide data on substance use and adolescent (ages 12-17) depression. The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has recently added an indicator related to the prevalence of depression among youth in its Key National Indicators of Well-Being report and includes indicators of alcohol and drug use. The forum has also identified the need for measures of positive behaviors.1 This could serve as a starting point. Similarly, consideration should be given to the approaches that both promote healthy development and have the greatest potential to affect multiple disorders, such as those aimed at strengthening families.
In developing the strategy, priority should be placed on educating the public on the potential to improve support of the nation’s young people, including efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, and on engaging relevant professional and intergovernmental organizations in a coordinated approach to improving support systems for young people and their families. Development of the strategy would have multiple components:
Identify and evaluate all federal programs and policies to determine which ones should be recommended to states and communities based on an agreed standard of evidence; these programs should be given highest priority for dissemination.
Create networks of prevention delivery programs involving schools, primary health care, behavioral health care, and other community-based programs that are sites for investigation and innovation