Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Kristin Schubert, Director

Earlier this year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced that we would focus in the coming years on building a Culture of Health, a culture in which good health is valued and supported by society as a whole. To achieve this vision, we know that we must address the existing culture of violence and trauma that prevents too many American families, communities, schools, cities and individuals from flourishing.

A group of us at the Foundation are now dedicating our time to learning how we can best contribute to overcoming this culture of violence and trauma. A potentially powerful way to do this is to promote the health and wellbeing of families with young children, by emphasizing healthy social emotional development and resilience and ensure that systems and services are poised to help families overcome the trauma they do encounter. This report from Child Trends reinforces our commitment to help children grow up mentally well by speaking to the power that parents, schools and communities have to strengthen children's mental wellness.

Our learning cannot be done in isolation. We want to hear from those of you who are perhaps learning yourselves, who are developing ideas that work and who can encourage us to consider novel approaches. Over the next few weeks, we will share additional reports and briefs and continue to ask you to share your ideas and opinions. Please don't be shy; we can't do this without you.

Summary of "Are the Children Well?" Policy Brief

The mental health challenges our country’s youth 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 children and parents, and improving the quality of the environments where children and youth live, learn, play, and grow. This report summarizes current knowledge on children’s mental health, and offers a more-inclusive framework for understanding mental wellness.

Read the Child Trends Policy Brief

Download the Executive Summary (PDF)

Download the Full Report (PDF)

“We were encouraged by the research indicating that a child with mental health concerns can also have wellness in many aspects of his or her life. With support from caregivers, schools, and communities, the child as a whole can flourish.”

- Dr. Rachel Gooze, Child Trends

Join the Discussion

Submit a question to the community or provide an answer to one of the questions below.

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Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Senior ADviser for Program Development

The report suggests that to separarte mental and physical wellness is artificial and can be harmful. Are there examples of how organizations or systems have overcome structural and financial barriers to providing integrated and holistic care that builds resilience in children and their families?

Submitted by (@janeisaacslowe)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Is health one?

Are we ready to do away with distinctions between “mental” and “physical” health? Why and why not?

Submitted by (@dmurphey)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Family wellness

Can child wellness be achieved if parental wellness is lacking? What are promising practices in two-generation approaches to better mental and physical health?

Submitted by (@rgooze)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

senior research scientist

To what extent are current interventions evidence-based? Where are knowledge gaps greatest: in knowing what to do, or in knowing how to scale what we know works?

Submitted by (@dmurphey)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Is this really a shift from illness to promotion of wellness?

The point is that mental health policy needs to effectively develop a full intervention continuum: (1) promotion of mental health, (2) a focus on prevention of MH related problems, (3) a focus on responding as early after the onset of problems as is feasible, and (4) enhanced systems of care. It also needs to encompass a sophisticated approach to the role of schools. It is especially essential not to present wellness ...more »

Submitted by (@adelman)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

how does one make this happen?

My concern about this report is not the content, which is basically what many of us have written at one time or another (and it's perfectly good). It's the challenge, in these times, of making grand recommendations. For some time, I have written about the urgency of state and community level dialogue and engagement. Working with schools, with community groups, with state advocacy groups...this is where we must focus...our ...more »

Submitted by (@evelynfrankford)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Community schools are a viable option for two-generational impact

Community schools place health and wellness alongside learning and family supports to reinforce two-generation impact. Through community school partnerships, schools become hubs for early childhood education, well-child visits, family financial literacy, after school and summer programs, behavioral health counseling, high school and college preparation, and much more. Further, community schools present an opportunity ...more »

Submitted by (@nicolejohnson)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

Build on the Success of School Based Health Centers

One of the most effective models for integrating physical and mental health within the school environment is School Based Health Centers (SBHCs). SBHCs remove barriers to care, mitigate the stigma associated with mental health treatment for many students and families, and create a safe haven for children and adolescents. SBHCs have been shown to support young people, improve their health, and increase their academic success. ...more »

Submitted by (@jesse0)

Policy Brief Discussion 1: Are the Children Well?

School-Based Health Centers are integral to achieving Wellness!

School-Based Health Centers can be the link among several report recommendations to achieve wellness in children and youth. SBHCs increase access to integrated health services, support families and students through universal wellness programs and direct mental health services, and influence school climate through teaching trainings, social-emotional learning programs, and youth-led stigma reduction campaigns. In order ...more »

Submitted by (@aliciarozum)