Year Published: 2014
Authors: William Beardslee and Tracy R.G. Gladstone, Ph.D.
Source: Chapter from book The Challenges of Mental Health Caregiving: Research • Practice • Policy (pp.83-102)
There has been a remarkable growth of high quality empirical studies in the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of mental health over the past three decades. A series of reports (Institute of Medicine (IOM), Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research, 1994; National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroup, Blueprint for change: Research on child and adolescent psychiatry, 2001; Beardslee and Gladstone, Facilitating pathways: Care, treatment and prevention in child and adolescent mental health, 2004) has documented progress in the prevention of mental illness. More recently, the Institute of Medicine issued two new reports, one focused entirely on the prevention of emotional and behavioral disorders in youth (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities, 2009) and another with a specific focus on parental depression (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Depression in parents, parenting, and children, 2009). This progress has occurred through the definition of a set of rigorous standards for the conduct of research in prevention (e.g., testing of theoretically driven hypotheses, use of valid assessment instruments, blind assessment of subjects separate from intervention delivery, evaluation of outcomes over the long term, etc.), primarily using randomized trial designs. Yet, against the backdrop of successfully conducted prevention trials and efforts to promote mental health, virtually nothing has been written about the needs of caregivers who engage in prevention and health promotion and, in particular, what kinds of special supports they need. Caring for caregivers in prevention settings is absolutely essential to the success of preventive intervention efforts to date and will be even more important if such efforts are to be widely implemented in large-scale programs.