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U.S. Asked to Do More for Kids' Mental Health
Date:3/25/2009

nd behavioral disorders, it notes.

The report cites several school-, home- and community-based programs that have successful records in preventing such conditions as depression, anxiety, behavioral issues and substance abuse. It also notes that research has shown that working to improve young people's social and emotional skills can help their grades now and in the future.

Programs that the report describes as worth duplicating across the country include:

  • Clarke Cognitive-Behavioral Prevention Intervention, which teaches at-risk adolescents how to handle stress and helps prevent major depression.
  • Good Behavior Game, a school-based program that offers elementary school students rewards, such as extra free time, for appropriate behavior. Studies involving first-graders showed that it greatly reduced incidents of bad behavior and, in subsequent years, reduced incidents of alcohol and drug abuse and lowered rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.
  • Positive Parenting Program, which gives parents instruction in methods to deal with aggressive behavior or uncooperativeness in their children. Improvements in a child's behavior were apparent even a year after the training ended, the report said.

Though the report calls for federal agencies -- including the Health and Human Services, Education and Justice departments -- to financially and logistically support such local efforts, it also warns that hard evidence of a program's success should be required before it receives any federal backing.

The report also said that screening programs used to find children at greater risk for mental health issues or behavioral problems have value but only under certain conditions. These included programs aimed at finding kids threatened by serious mental health conditions for which effective intervention treatments already exist.

The National Research Council and Inst
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