In recent years, prominent experts have urged changes to help end longstanding disparities between physical and mental health care, and to foster wellness. This report builds on that prior work. Child Trends argues that the distinction between physical and mental health is both artificial and harmful, and make a case for re-balancing attention to include wellness in addition to illness. It is important to identify and address the needs of children at risk, while also improving the mental wellness supports and services available to all children and youth. Therefore, Child Trends considered the evidence for interventions, both prevention- and promotion-oriented, that can improve mental wellness at the multiple levels of individual, family, school, and community.
The mental health challenges our country’s young people face call for shifting the focus of policy and practice from illness, to promotion of wellness and flourishing. This requires using evidence-based strategies with both children and parents, and improving the quality of the environments where children and youth live, learn, play, and grow.
Individual wellness is largely a product of what happens in families, schools, communities, and the broader social context, and interventions are more efficient when they target root causes.