As familiar as Americans are with the problems of youth drug and alcohol abuse, we are not identifying all the potential solutions. While observers criticize overemphasis in U.S. policy on enforcement and scant resources devoted to treatment, the focus on these approaches often ignores a key piece of the puzzle: prevention.
Student mental health programs can improve staff, faculty, and student knowledge of mental health problems, provide skills for identifying and referring students in need, and change attitudes toward mental health problems.
If prevention researchers build programs with developmentally relevant content, and provide this content in an engaging, confidential, and non-judgmental way, it can help middle school-aged children avoid alcohol.
The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) reduces symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression in students exposed to violence. Free web-based training to deliver CBITS is available for mental health professionals.
Lisa Jaycox is a senior behavioral scientist and clinical psychologist at the RAND Corporation. She has combined clinical and research expertise in the areas of child and adolescent mental health problems, including depression and reactions to violence exposure such as post-traumatic stress…