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Stronger effort needed to prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in young people
Date:2/13/2009

for parents struggling to handle children's aggressiveness or lack of cooperation. These methods have been shown to lower kids' disruptive behaviors, a positive change that persisted one year later.

The report recommends that the White House create an entity to lead a broad implementation of evidence-based prevention approaches and to direct research on interventions. The new leadership body should set public goals for preventing specific disorders and promoting mental health and provide the funding to achieve them. The departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services should align their resources and programs with this strategy. These agencies should also fund state, county, and community efforts to implement and improve evidence-based programs. At the same time, the report cautions, federal and state agencies should not support programs that lack empirical evidence, even if they have community endorsement.

The committee also urged continued research to build understanding of what interventions work for whom and when, and how best to implement them. The National Institutes of Health should develop a comprehensive 10-year plan to research ways to promote mental health and prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in young people. In addition, agencies and foundations should establish equality in research funding between ways to prevent mental and behavioral disorders and ways to treat these problems, the report says; currently, the balance is weighted toward research on treatment.

The report also discusses screening programs that attempt to identify children with risk factors for mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Screening can be helpful for targeting interventions, but it should be used only if it meets certain criteria, including that the disorders to be prevented are a serious threat to mental health and that there is an effective intervention to address the risks or early symptoms. Par
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Contact: Sara Frueh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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