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A systematic review of reviews of interventions to promote mental health and prevent mental health problems in children and young people

By Ruth Tennant, Cristina Goens, Jane Barlow, Crispin Day and Sarah L. Stewart-Brown


Background: There is a growing policy imperative to promote positive mental health as well as preventing the development of mental health problems in children. This paper summarises the results of published systematic reviews evaluating interventions to promote mental health and prevent mental illness in children.\ud Method: A search was undertaken of ten electronic databases using a combination of medical subject headings (MeSH) and free text searches. Systematic reviews covering mental health promotion or mental illness prevention interventions aimed at infants, children or young people up to age 19 were included. Reviews of drug and alcohol prevention programmes or programmes to prevent childhood abuse and neglect were excluded because these have been the subject of recent good quality reviews of reviews. Critical appraisal of all studies was undertaken using a standardised appraisal tool for systematic reviews. Where possible effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals are reported. A narrative summary has been provided.\ud Results: A total of 27 systematic reviews were included and grouped pragmatically under the following headings: parenting interventions; programmes for the prevention of anxiety and depression, programmes to promote self esteem, violence and aggression prevention programmes, school-based programmes, and general reviews. Included studies targeted a range of risk and protective factors, and a range of populations (including both parents and children). While, many lacked methodological rigour, overall, the evidence is strongly suggestive of the effectiveness of a range of interventions in promoting positive mental well-being, and reducing key risk factors for mental illness in children.\ud Conclusion: A variety of programmes have been shown to be effective in promoting children’s mental health, albeit with modest effect sizes. Based on this evidence, arguments are advanced for the preferential provision of early preventive programmes

Topics: HQ, BF, RJ101
Publisher: Pavilion
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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