Research on Social Work Practice, Ahead of Print.
Behavioral health problems in young people are often addressed through costly and ineffective treatment, rehabilitation, and control strategies aimed at helping children and adolescents after problems are identified. Evidence indicates that many behavioral health problems can be prevented before they occur, thereby saving significant individual, economic, and social costs. Although policy, practice, and research in reducing behavioral health problems have increased dramatically in the past several decades, social work has been slow to join other disciplines in the critical debate about the most effective and humane ways to prevent behavioral health problems. It is time for social work to adopt prevention as a guiding framework for practice, policy, advocacy, and research in behavioral health settings.