Substantial progress has been made since the 1994 IOM report in identifying mechanisms to affect risk or protective factors for MEB disorders, developing specific approaches to affect those factors, and strategies to prevent specific disorders, such as depression and substance abuse. However, despite the high prevalence of MEB disorders and the promise apparent from prevention research, research on prevention has not received attention or funding commensurate to that of treatment research.

Recommendation 13-4: Federal agencies and foundations funding research on the prevention of MEB disorders should establish parity between research on preventive interventions and treatment interventions.

Multiple federal agencies, across several departments, fund research related to prevention. Research priorities differ across agencies, making it difficult to systematically identify and address new research needs. Continued progress over the next decade and the nation’s ability to reduce the prevalence of disorders will require that efforts to implement what is currently known are married with rigorous efforts to address gaps in research knowledge.

Recommendation 13-5: The National Institutes of Health, with input from other funders of prevention research, should develop a comprehensive 10-year research plan targeting the promotion of mental health and prevention of both single and comorbid MEB disorders. This plan should consider current needs, opportunities for cross-disciplinary and multi-institute research, support for the necessary research infrastructure, and establishment of a mechanism for assessing and reporting progress against 10-year goals.

Several specific recommendations related to gaps in research knowledge have been identified throughout the report and should be considered in development of this plan:

  • Screening. Approaches needed to develop and test models for screening in school and primary care settings (see Chapter 8).

  • Intervention effectiveness. Development of new and more effective interventions, as well as research aimed at replicating findings with a range of target populations and demonstrating outcomes over time, ideally across developmental phases (see Chapters 7 and 10).

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