Saturday, February 14, 2009

National Academy of Sciences: Preventing Disorders in Children

The National Academy of Sciences released a report that calls on federal and state legislators to make prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders a high priority.

The NAS Report describes a substantial gap between what we know about preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and what we actually do to deliver effective prevention programs to the wide group of at-risk children and adolescents. (Link to the table of contents of the NAS Report)

For those at risk of a disorder, the key to prevention is using early symptoms to identify them and provide opportunities for treatment when it can be most effective.

The Report also points out that a number of programs have shown broader preventive effects in general populations of young people.  Especially promising are those programs that fit into family or educational setting and address major risk factors, while other programs improve children's mental health and behavior by enhancing parenting skills (the Positive Parenting Program is cited as an example).

The NAS 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. It also includes an analysis of the costs and benefits of prevention.

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