The Spectrum of Mental Ill-health in Young People in the Whole Population

Presentation First Author: 
Kathleen Merikangas

Mental disorders are widespread and lifelong conditions, about half of which start by age 14. This suggests that detection of the roots of such disorders as they emerge in childhood and adolescence could facilitate prevention of adulthood disorders and their devastating consequences. However, there are numerous challenges to the design and implementation of early intervention and prevention programs including: (1) the lack of specificity of early risk factors and manifestations of emotional and behavior problems in predicting the risk of transition to chronic mental disorders in adulthood; (2) use of arbitrary thresholds based on categorical diagnoses to define disorder onset; (3) focus on emotional and behavioral problems rather than more comprehensive models of physical and mental disorders, and their socioenvironmental context; and (4) limited evidence for effective interventions.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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