Both service and research components of the relevant agencies should be involved. These include, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH, SAMHSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; in the U.S. Department of Education, IES and Safe Schools; and in the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Institute of Justice. The need for high-level coordination across multiple agencies, the broad implications of healthy development for multiple components of society, and the significant cost associated with MEB disorders call for ongoing White House involvement. The White House has played a leadership role in other related issues, such as violence against women, mental health policy (the New Freedom Commission), strengthening youth, and drug control policy. A new, ongoing interagency mechanism focused on the emotional and behavioral health of young people could build on and extend the current White House effort to help America’s youth. This current effort, a “nationwide effort to raise awareness about the challenges facing our youth, particularly at-risk boys, and to motivate caring adults to connect with youth in three key areas: family, school, and community,”2 already recognizes many of the core findings outlined in this report.
The specific mechanism could take many forms, including a new White House office, an ongoing commission, or a White House–led strategic coordinating group. Regardless of the form it takes, it should have adequate authority to direct agency resources in a coordinated manner, facilitate a paradigm shift that emphasizes promotion and prevention, and have a long-term mandate.
Just as there have been significant advances in prevention science in the past 15 years, it is highly likely that there will be considerable progress in the next 15 years with the development of new, more refined prevention strategies. The nation should have a mechanism in place to benefit from rapid deployment of these advances. The creation of an ongoing strategic mechanism to coordinate federal efforts will facilitate consideration of how these advances are best applied. A major need for the immediate future is to systematically study how to effectively translate these strategies to broad-based prevention programs and to identify mechanisms for federal support of community and state efforts. The time is ripe for interventions to be delivered and tested in primary care, in the mental health care sector, in schools, in community organizations, and in families.
Mental health efforts are often fragmented and of uneven quality for