Date: 29 Dec 2009

A Public Health Approach to Children’s Mental Health Services: Possible Solutions to Current Service Inadequacies

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The Child-Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) system confronts clinically complex youth with high rates of behavior problems, diverse mental health disorders, substance abuse, criminal behavior, and other “at risk” behaviors (e.g. school truancy, family conflict, etc.). Because of the complexity of the youth, the system has serious difficulties helping them to successfully overcome the myriad of problems they confront. This group proposes that a public health approach would help solve many of the inadequacies of the current system.

Public health has been variously defined; however, all definitions recognize it as the art and science of dealing with the protection and improvement of community health by organized community efforts. As such, it includes prevention, screening, and treatment, as well as environmental and social interventions. We propose that a public health approach should be taken on behalf of child mental health. Although public health is often conceptualized as focu