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New NASEM Report Presents Opportunity to Improve MEB in Children and Youth

October 24, 2019

Recently, Deborah Klein Walker, the Immediate Past President of the Global Alliance and a member of the Forum For Children’s Well-Being, participated in a workshop to discuss dissemination strategies for the newly released report, State of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health (MEB) of Children and Youth in the United States.

The Global Alliance is a sponsor of the Forum for Children’s Well-being, an activity of the Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  Last week, the Forum met to discuss dissemination strategies for the new consensus study report: Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth: A National Agenda.

This report, which follows the 2009 consensus study (Preventing Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People) presents more evidence for programs and policies that promote mental, emotional and behavioral (MEB) development and prevent MEB disorders. It is important to note that the first consensus report (Reducing Risks of Mental Disorder) published 25 years ago in 1994 did not discuss promotion of MEB health and had very little discussion of prevention of MEB disorders. Although much still needs to be done to assure full implementation of treatment and maintenance of MEB disorders, the emerging evidence for promotion and prevention interventions is especially encouraging.

The report “urges the creation of a broad-based effort to improve MEB health for children and youth, organized under the rubric Decade of Children and Youth, led by the Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative would build awareness of the social and economic gains associated with healthy child development and engage multiple sectors of society in working toward the goal.” How can this effort be supported by individuals, families, communities, states, faith-based organizations, private businesses, and others to assure that it is successful? The time has come to invest in evidence-based solutions to improve MEB health for children and youth.

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