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Introduction to Special Issue on Mental Disorders as a Chronic Issue

Elise K. Eifert

ajhe cover July August 2019

Welcome to the Special Issue of the American Journal of Health Education (AJHE) on mental health and children and adolescents. AJHE’s mission is to publish research manuscripts that focus on Health Education and Health Promotion interventions designed to prevent or delay the onset of the major chronic diseases and illnesses that impact population health. One area of health often left out of the chronic disease paradigm is mental disorders, though that is changing. Perspectives on mental health have evolved from conceptualizing certain disorders or illnesses as primarily acute, time limited psychiatric conditions to recurrent and chronic life-long diseases. This issue reflects this evolution and addresses one of the most vulnerable populations to mental disorders-children and adolescents.

The commentary by Mark J. Kittleson sets the tone for the Special Issue. Dr. Kittleson writes on the difference between mental illness and mental health and how these terms are often used interchangeably. He examines what mental health is and provides six dimensions that should constitute mental health. He also challenges professionals in Health Education to consider what they can do regarding mental health because the profession is limited in what they can do to treat illness. Before reading any further, please reflect on how you personally view mental illness, mental health, and the role of Health Education and Health Promotion in addressing issues related to mental illness and health.

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