How can we promote the mental health of adolescents? Although there have been decades of work focusing on eliminating or reducing psychological problems in children and adolescents through psychopathology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry, isn't the ultimate goal for children to be safe, healthy, happy, moral, and fully engaged in life?
The papers in this special issue of The ANNALS depart from the tradition of a disease-based model, where well-being is defined by the absence of distress and disorder. Although the authors recognize that decreasing negative aspects is an important step in promoting health among children and teens, they challenge the conventional approaches and call for increased attention to the positive aspect of human development.
The articles in this issue are an important addition to the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands' call for an Adolescent Mental Health Initiative, which was a series of conferences in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania. This further one commission, led by Martin Seligman, was created to address positive youth development and its relevance to adolescent mental health.
Providing a dramatic shift in perspective, these papers include innovative research topics and offer a solid framework for the idea of positive youth development including the history of positive youth development, highlights of effective positive youth programs, evaluation studies of a variety of interventions, examples of theory-based interventions, and more.
Scholars, students, practitioners, and policymakers in the child and adolescent field will find this issue of The ANNALS a critical resource. It offers a refreshing position that emphasizes positive human development and strives toward the vision of young people who are satisfied with their life, who have identified their talents and use them in a variety of fulfilling pursuits, and who are contributing members of our society.