Chapter

Prevention of mental disorder in childhood and other public health issues

Rhoshel Lenroot

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199696758.003.0211
Prevention of mental disorder in childhood and other public health issues

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Enormous progress has been made in recognizing the scope of mental health problems for children around the world, and in developing the theoretical framework needed to address decreasing this burden in a systematic fashion. Technological advances in neuroimaging, genetics, and computational biology are providing the tools to start describing the biological processes underlying the complex course of development, and have renewed appreciation of the role of the environment in determining how a genetic heritage is expressed. However, rapid technological change is also altering the environment of children and their families at an unprecedented rate, and what kinds of challenges to public health these changes may present is not yet fully understood. What is becoming clear is that as technological advances increase the range of available health care treatments, along with the potential cost, the choices for societies between spending limited resources on treatment or prevention will have to become increasingly deliberate. A substantial body of work has demonstrated that prevention in mental health can be effective, but those who would benefit the most from preventive interventions are often not those with the political or economic resources to make them a priority. While the potential interventions to prevent mental health disorders in children are constrained by the knowledge and resources available, what is actually done depends upon the social and political values of individual communities and nations. It is to be hoped that as our understanding of these disorders grows, public policies to prevent the development of mental health disorders in children will become as commonplace a responsibility for modern societies as the provision of clean drinking water.

Chapter.  5639 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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