Children's Mental Health as a Public Health Issue
What exactly is "children's mental health"? There are many ways to understand mental health based on our experiences, education, families, and cultures. It’s not just about illness. We all have a state of mental health all of the time. A public health approach to children’s mental health helps us to improve the mental health of all children and families, not just those with diagnoses.
What do you think about when you hear the phrase “mental health”? Use these resources to start a conversation with others. Contact Cari Michaels at firstname.lastname@example.org at the Children, Youth & Family Consortium with questions or for more information.
Mental Health: Yours, Mine and Ours
Video Discussion Questions
Interested in leading others in conversations about mental health? Use these discussion guides to start a conversation about this video.
- Starting a Community Conversation Discussion Questions (PDF)
- Starting a Practitioner Conversation Discussion Questions (PDF)
- Starting a Conversation at School Discussion Questions (PDF)
Find the Research and Learn How to Use It
Promoting Children's Mental Health: Published Journal Articles (PDF) — Review journal articles about public health approaches to children’s mental health, ways to frame and speak about mental health, and successful mental health promotion activities throughout childhood.
Mental Health and Nutrition: Published Journal Articles (PDF) — This list of journal articles focuses on the multi-faceted connections between mental health and nutrition. While many of the articles focus specifically on children, adolescents, and maternal-child dyads, others are broader population studies and research reviews.
Impact of Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep on Mental Health: Books (PDF) — This list of books focuses on the multi-faceted connections between mental health and physical activity, nutrition, and sleep.
Exercise and Mental Health: Published Journal Articles (PDF) — This list of literature reviews and studies from around the world reviews the multi-faceted connections between mental health and physical activity, including different types of physical activity, activity settings, mental health promotion, and addressing mental illness.
Poverty and Mental Health: Book List (PDF) — This list of books focuses on the multi-faceted connections between mental health and poverty for individuals and families domestically and abroad.
Poverty and Mental Health: Published Journal Articles (PDF) — Reviews the multi-faceted connections between mental health and poverty for individuals and families in areas such as prevalence, neighborhood impact, and service access.
Sleep and Mental Health: Published Journal Articles (PDF) — Reviews connections between mental health and sleep in children, adolescents, maternal-child dyads, and broader population studies and research reviews.
Mental Health as a Public Health Issue: Book List (PDF) — These books examine mental health from a variety of broad public health perspectives, including populations health, social determinants of health, eliminating stigma, global perspectives and social policy.
Stress and Resilience in the Workplace and Beyond
- Articles about Secondary Traumatic Stress, Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue & Burnout (PDF) — The articles on this list are about the constructs of secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout. Much of the literature considers professionals and their interactions within workplace settings; other articles consider the role of one or more of these constructs in relations to relatives of those who have experienced significant trauma.
- Articles about Workplaces Wellness (PDF) — The articles on this list are about resilience in workplace settings. While some are focused on individual characteristics that promote employee resilience, others take more of an organizational practices look at factors that promote individual and group resilience.
Gender and Mental Health: Journal Articles (PDF) — Research on mental health as it relates to gender identity development, sexual orientation, gender variation and related issues.
Trans Youth Mental Health: Journal Articles (PDF) — Research on the health and well-being of transgender youth in the context of families, schools, and community.
Reports, Resource Guides, and Action Plans (PDF) — Learn about how national and international organizations have used public health approaches to promote children’s mental health.
A Public Health Approach to Children's Mental Health: A Conceptual Framework — National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health — A monograph that advances an approach to children’s mental health that applies public health concepts to efforts that support children’s mental health and development.
Implications for Enhancing Children’s Mental Health — Read about how social-emotional learning is linked to children’s mental health.
Bright Futures: A Public Health Approach to Mental Health — Bright Futures at Georgetown University — A national health promotion initiative dedicated to the principle that every child deserves to be healthy and that optimal health involves a trusting relationship between the health professional, the child, the family, and the community as partners in health practice.