Mental & Emotional Health

The following excerpt is from a report published by the Center for Health and Learning

Promoting Mental Health Wellness: Recommendations for Families and Youth-serving Professionals

The Issues

In 2012 the Center for Health and Learning published the Youth Suicide Prevention Platform, outlining the current issues and suggesting strategies for suicide prevention. These approaches have been effective in creating various programs that target those in need of immediate assistance and training individuals and organizations to recognize youth at risk. While these methods and programs need to continue and be expanded, it has been recognized that broader and more upstream strategies also need to be developed to promote greater mental health wellness among our youth in general, thereby reducing the need in the long run for the current “problem-based” interventions. Upstream approaches are much more effective and efficient solutions because they tend to get to the source of an issue. However, as the stream metaphor suggests, there is usually no one “source”, but a complex watershed that contributes to the flow. There is an accumulation of scientific evidence, despite this, that has been able to identify the many tributaries (the environmental factors) that are most critical to the overall mental health of an individual. It has also been demonstrated that early childhood programs are a particularly cost effective place for mental health interventions when compared to older youth or adult programs, when many problems have accumulated and prevention becomes more difficult.

The Need for New Solutions & Approaches

A shift is taking place in public health from a focus on “preventing” disease (an illness model) towards “promoting” mental health (a wellness model). While there is obviously a great overlap in these two things in practice, wellness promotion facilitates a whole health and whole society approach and focuses on the big picture. The Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development gives the following visual framework for this shift change in their publication A Public Health Approach to Children’s Mental Health.1 In this model, we begin by assessing the current issues around a given problem. This is often done using surveys that gauge the attitudes and behaviors of a large population of youth. The Search Institute has been a leader in doing these kinds of assessments, and it has led them to develop a theory that there are 40 developmental assets that all youth need to succeed.

Read more. There are two versions of this report.

  1. To read the National report, click here.
  2. To read recommendations for the state of Vermont, click here.

Ecological Model for Advancing Health and Wellness

CHL’s Ecological Model graphic shows the key elements of an ecological model which, philosophically, recognizes the dynamic inter-relatedness among personal and environmental factors in individual and social life. Its ecological approach fosters connectedness across multiple levels of the system—state, community, and individual and promotes coordination across sectors including health, education, justice and others.

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