Preventing Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People
We know that AD/HD is an abnormality of how the brain functions, and we know that there is frequently a genetic element. We also know that environmental elements can influence brain development. We know that natural supports, such as home and community, can influence the symptoms of AD/HD. Now, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has issued a new report, Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People. This 400-page report, by the most prestigious body of medical science in the United States, is expensive and can be ordered through the IOM. The IOM recommends that the national government make healthy mental, emotional, and behavioral development of young people a national priority, establish goals, and provide needed research and service resources to address the goals.
The report concludes that early interventions can be effective in delaying or preventing the onset of mental disorders among young people. CHADD's sister organization, Mental Health America, "concurs" with the IOM, "supports the faithful implementation of a strong science base," and observes that "unfortunately, we lack a national initiative to advance the use of prevention and promotion approaches to benefit the mental health of the nation's young people."
The IOM recommends that national priorities should include:
1. Individuals who are at risk receive the best available evidence-based interventions prior to the onset of the disorder.
2. Promotion of positive mental, emotional, and behavioral development for all children and youth.
3. Poverty is a serious adversity that must be addressed.
4. Neighborhood violence is another serious adversity that must be addressed.
The IOM recommends federal agency research coordinated with practice. The government should identify communities with significant community-level risk factors and target resources to these communities. Researchers and community organizations should form partnerships to develop evaluations. Screening programs should be linked to interventions and evaluations. Risk and protective factors for specific disorders should be researched, and a focus should be on strengthening accomplishment of age-appropriate developmental tasks.
CHADD will be asking members of our professional advisory board to summarize programs cited by the IOM "as worth duplicating across the country," including:
1. Clarke Cognitive-Behavioral Prevention Intervention
2. Good Behavioral Game
3. Positive Parenting Program
4. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS)
Prevention requires an investment of commitment and resources. The nation's school districts should be more responsible and involved with such prevention programs.