approach clearly emphasizes the importance for children of both promotion of mental, emotional, and behavioral health and the prevention of disorders. Adopting a more inclusive approach may also be less stigmatizing for young people and their families and increase participation in relevant programs, as the focus shifts from avoiding the possibility of disorder toward helping young people realize their potential.


Definitions of prevention are important for identifying the potential contribution of prevention approaches to the overall public health goal of reducing the burden of MEB disorders on children and youth, as well as for distinguishing the complementary contributions of mental health promotion, prevention of disorders, and treatment of disorders. At this time, theory, research, and practice have evolved to support an approach to prevention that aims not only to prevent disorder, but also to promote positive mental, emotional, and behavioral health in young people.

Conclusion: The theoretical grounding and empirical testing of approaches to promote mental health have advanced considerably, making it a valuable component of the intervention spectrum warranting additional rigorous research.

Prevention and treatment are necessary and complementary components of a comprehensive approach to the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of young people. However, to enable distinctions between the two and to monitor the effectiveness of each, delineations must be made. The committee has decided that the definitions of universal, selective, and indicated prevention, as laid out in the 1994 IOM report, with the addition of mental health promotion, offer the most useful framework for the field.

Recommendation 3-1: Research and interventions on the prevention of MEB disorders should focus on interventions that occur before the onset of disorder but should be broadened to include promotion of mental health.

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