Simple Ring SmallEducating policymakers and the public about the value of children’s mental health services is an ongoing challenge.  Part of that challenge is finding the right words to describe complex concepts related to child mental health.  Recent work by the FrameWorks Institute provides research-based guidance for informing the public conversation about child mental health services.

The research documents a considerable lack of public understanding about the prevalence, causes, impact, prevention, and treatment of children’s mental health conditions.  These findings have important implications for generating support of children’s mental health services.  Quoting from a recent FrameWorks Institute report:

  • “Given the contradiction between ready accessibility of information about child mental health needs on the one hand and the paucity of public understanding of essential features of mental health on the other, efforts to create or sustain effective public programs and policies are likely to be met with confusion and even resistance.  Further, it is highly likely that communications and public outreach efforts for related programs and policies will be misdirected.  Until there is a clearer recognition of exactly how the public reasons about the topic of child mental health and a concomitant effort to explain fundamental principles in terms the public can understand, experts will not be able to fully engage the public in recognizing the value of the solutions scientists and policy leaders seek to advance.”

In response to these findings the FrameWorks Institute has produced a series of products summarizing their research and recommending research-based ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts  for talking about children’s mental health with policymakers and the public.  Among the recommendations are specific phrases that appear to resonate with test audiences.  Like any guidance of this type, the recommendations should be considered for their relevance in the local setting.  But the research and recommendations are definitely worth reviewing if you are engaged in educating policymakers, funders, and the public about the value of children’s mental health services.




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