Children, girls, outside, playground

Because depression, substance abuse and other child mental health disorders can be devastating if left untreated, our researchers' top priorities include fostering social and emotional health in children and adolescents.

In the United States, one in ten children and adolescents suffers from mental illness severe enough to interfere with daily life at school, at home or with friends. Yet, fewer than one in five receives needed treatment. Researchers at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development hope to increase this number - by looking at ways that community and school resources can be used to help children get the treatment they need and by using tele-mental health to reach underserved areas, for example. Because mental health is critical for children's overall health and learning, the long-term consequences of untreated childhood mental health disorders can be devastating, far-reaching and costly. Fostering social and emotional health in children and adolescents as a part of healthy development is therefore a major priority within our center.

The research at our center emphasizes both the promotion of mental health in children and the treatment of mental health disorders, including depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety problems and substance use. In one study, we are partnering with the Seattle Public Schools to evaluate a program for middle school students and their families. This program is designed to teach children and their parents the skills to manage stress and emotion.

Our research spans the continuum of intervention approaches and includes:

  • Screening and prevention
  • Collaborative care models to improve the delivery of treatment in primary care and other health-service settings
  • School- and community-based implementation of evidence-based treatments
  • Tele-mental health to reach underserved populations in rural areas

We draw upon our understanding of normal development to guide our work and build upon the existing strengths of a child in order to foster resiliency.