One-fifth of the children in the United States have a diagnosable mental disorder. About 10 percent of American children receive some form of mental health care each year. Unfortunately, many of those who do receive treatment may not be getting effective treatment: most of the mental health interventions children receive today have not been shown scientifically to work.
It’s not that effective treatments don’t exist. In fact, there are evidence-based interventions for most of the problems that bring children and adolescents into treatment. The problem is that most of these interventions are used primarily in universities and other research settings. Out in the field, in most clinical settings, care is generally not guided by empirical evidence, and the outcomes are not nearly as good.
Why is there such a gap between state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment and what is typically delivered in practice? And how can scientific advances be brought into real-world settings, where they have the potential to benefit millions of children with mental disorders? These are the questions that drive the Network on Youth Mental Health Care. Its objectives are to identify scientifically validated treatments, make them practical for use in clinical settings, and develop strategies to encourage and facilitate their implementation — bringing appropriate, effective, and efficient care to young people with mental illness.