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Early Childhood Mental Health: A Public Health Approach

Eichner, Joan C (2009) Early Childhood Mental Health: A Public Health Approach. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Undiagnosed and untreated child mental health problems create a public health emergency in the United States (US). In the US the human suffering, burden of disability, and economic costs associated with mental illness are immense. Mental illness is the second leading cause of disease burden, directly resulting in substantial lost productivity. Behavioral health and prevention research highlight the effectiveness of interventions that reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors associated with mental illness. This focus on prevention and resilience reflects the relatively recent public health approach to mental health. The emphasis on promotion, prevention, and early intervention in a public health approach is especially relevant for young children. Likewise, the social-ecological perspective often used in public health interventions mirrors the multi-tiered influences on young children's social and emotional wellbeing. Finally, child development research shows young children can recover from early detection and early intervention for a mental health problem. One in five children and youth is estimated to experience symptoms of psychiatric disorder each year. Many of the mental health problems diagnosed in school aged children and teenagers originate in early childhood, but there are long delays before diagnosis and treatment are received. Approximately 10% of children experience mental problems to the point of impairment, yet less than 20% of those in need receive treatment. This unmet need in the population most likely to benefit from prevention and early treatment creates a problem of public health significance. Currently, there is little research linking public health approaches to mental health services for children birth to age five. This paper discusses the need for, and relevance of, a public health approach to young children's mental health, and makes recommendations for implementation of that approach.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Eichner, Joan
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBurke, Jessica Griffinjgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Committee MemberGroark, Christina Jcgroark@pitt.eduCGROARK
Committee MemberTerry, Martha Annmaterry@pitt.eduMATERRY
Date: 29 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 March 2009
Approval Date: 29 June 2009
Submission Date: 6 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disorder; infant; prevention; promotion; psychopathology; serious emotional disturbance
Other ID:, etd-04062009-190837
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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