March 2015Vol. 16, No. 2Promoting Mental Health and Wellness Among Children and Youth
Child Trends published an issue brief that presents a framework to promote a better understanding of the meaning and importance of mental wellness among children and youth to help improve their well-being. The brief summarizes current knowledge on children's mental health and addresses issues that arise when mental and physical wellness are treated as separate and unrelated priorities. This includes a discussion of the economic and social costs associated with inadequate treatment of children and youth's mental health needs and the impact of social stigmas related to mental health challenges. Difficulties in accessing and paying for mental health services are also addressed.
The model presents three concepts that are key to this new understanding of wellness: (1) physical and mental health are inseparable, as positive treatments and outcomes in one can help lead to positive outcomes in the other; (2) wellness is more than the absence of illness; and (3) wellness is a resource. Child welfare and related professionals as well as policymakers may be particularly interested in the sections that discuss ways to promote wellness at multiple levels.
The brief addresses ways to foster wellness within families, such as promoting nurturing parenting, taking care of parents and caregivers, and promoting parenting programs. Other suggestions for promoting wellness include fostering school-based and school-linked services, using media campaigns to change community norms, training health professionals to identify warning signs of mental health issues, and more.
Access Are the Children Well? A Model and Recommendations for Promoting the Mental Wellness of the Nation's Young People at http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/2014-33AreChildrenWellRWJF.pdf (1 MB).