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There is a growing policy imperative to promote positive mental health as well as prevent the development of mental health problems in children. This paper summarises the…
There is a growing policy imperative to promote positive mental health as well as prevent the development of mental health problems in children. This paper summarises the findings of published systematic reviews evaluating such interventions. A search was undertaken of ten electronic databases using a combination of medical subject headings (MeSH) and free text searches. Systematic reviews covering mental health promotion or mental illness prevention interventions aimed at infants, children or young people up to age 19 were included. Reviews of drug and alcohol prevention programmes and programmes to prevent childhood abuse and neglect were excluded because these have been the subject of recent good quality reviews of reviews. A total of 27 systematic reviews were included. These targeted a range of risk and protective factors, and a range of populations (including parents and children). While many lacked methodological rigour, overall the evidence is strongly suggestive of the effectiveness of a range of interventions in promoting positive mental well‐being, and reducing key risk factors for mental illness in children. Based on this evidence, arguments are advanced for the preferential provision of early preventive programmes.