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[ARTICLE] Strategic Initiative #1: Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness
Filed Under: Medicine | Published: Jul 2, 2012 | Author: Fran Harding

Mental and substance use disorders have a powerful effect on the health of individuals and on the Nation's social, economic, and health-related problems. Mental and substance use disorders are among the top conditions for disability, burden of disease, and cost to families, employers, and publicly funded health systems. Excessive alcohol use and illicit drug use are linked directly to increased burden from chronic disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.24
The Institute of Medicine's  2009 report Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities25 describes evidence-based services and interventions that build emotional health by addressing risk factors and supporting protective factors and resilience to prevent many mental and substance use disorders in children and young adults. The report documents that behavior and symptoms signaling the likelihood of future behavioral disorders such as substance abuse, adolescent depression, and conduct disorders often manifest 2 to 4 years before a disorder is actually present. If communities and families can intervene earlier before mental and substance use disorders are typically diagnosed, future disorders can be prevented or the symptoms mitigated. Doing so requires multiple and consistent interventions by all systems touching these children and youth (eg. schools, health systems, faith based organizations, families, and community programs).  Most adult mental and substance use disorders manifest before age 25, and many of the same risk and protective factors affect physical health. The focus on preventing mental health and substance use disorders and related problems among children, adolescents, and young adults is critical to the Nation's behavioral and physical health now and in the future.
The promotion of positive mental health and prevention of mental and substance use disorders are key parts of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's  mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illnesses on America's communities. The World Health Organization defines health as " state of complete physical, mental, social well-being, and not merely absence of disease or infirmity."  Mental, emotional, and behavioral health refers to the overall psychological well-being of individuals and includes the presence of positive characteristics, such as the ability to manage stress, demonstrate flexibility under changing conditions, and bounce back from adverse situations. Plans to promote health by placing a national priority on healthy mental, emotional, and behavioral development, especially in children, youth, and young adults.

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