Making Children’s Mental Health a Public Policy Priority: For the One and the Many

October 25, 2017

Charlotte Waddell, Christine Schwartz, Caitlyn Andres (2017, October). Making Children’s Mental Health a Public Policy Priority: For the One and the Many. Public Health Ethics.

Despite its profound importance for individuals and populations, children’s mental health remains under-appreciated as a public policy priority, to a degree that violates children’s rights. Using a working definition of policymaking as collective ethical decision-making for the one and the many, we elaborate by describing an individual child’s story (the one) and reviewing the pertinent population health research evidence (the many). We then outline three central public health ethical challenges: (i) addressing the high prevalence and impact of childhood mental disorders; (ii) addressing the avoidable social adversities that underlie many childhood mental disorders; and (iii) addressing stark shortfalls in prevention and treatment services for children. We end with discussing opportunities for progress, including addressing the attendant children’s rights issues.

Full text of this article is in the journal Public Health Ethics, available to all readers.