Welcome to Talking About Children’s Mental Health– a toolkit compendium of research on how Americans think about children’s mental health, and how to increase public support for policies and programs that support children’s mental health. This toolkit was developed by the FrameWorks Institute with funding from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
Included in this toolkit are applications materials, based on the research findings, that can help engage the public in understanding children’s mental health, thereby improving the public conversation and decision making about this critical issue.
It’s important to note that this toolkit will be most effective when used in conjunction with recommendations from our extensive body of work on early child development.
- Talking About Children’s Mental Health This MessageMemo summarizes the findings from our research, and provides advocates and experts with a communications map for improving the public's understanding of children's mental health and the value of solutions that scientists and policy leaders seek to advance.
This section provides a variety of framing tools intended to help advocates understand and apply the research findings and recommendations on how to talk about children’s mental health.
- Talking Points
A reminder of the core elements of the children’s mental health frame for use in preparation for media interviews, editorial board visits, or other public communications.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Common questions about children’s mental health, with examples of effective and less-effective responses to each question.
- Sample Op-Ed
This is an example of how to apply the framing strategies on children’s mental health to the format of a guest editorial in a newspaper.
Key Framing Guides.
- Navigating the Swamp. A graphic representation of the swamp of dominant patterns of thinking about children’s mental health. This can serve as a reminder of the themes in public thinking that your communications should avoid.
- You Say…They Think.
An analysis of a series frame clashes – you say one thing and the public thinks another – which shows how certain ways of framing children’s mental health can get eaten in the swamp.
- Basic Message Template. The outline of a new frame for communicating about children’s mental health. The talking points, FAQs, and Sample Op-Ed in this toolkit show a variety of ways to apply this basic template.
- Notes on Leveling. Some additional considerations about using the Leveling simplifying model.
- Models of the Mind is a multi-media presentation of the findings from 20 in-depth cognitive interviews, conducted in Dallas, Texas and Cleveland, Ohio in May 2009. Featuring the real voices of research informants, this presentation demonstrates some of the ways in which lay understanding of the issue of children's mental health differs significantly from what experts know. It also suggests how expert knowledge might be more effectively conveyed to the public and policymakers.
- Refining the Options for Advancing Support for Child Mental Health Policies (2010). This report tests the impact of frame elements, specifically two values, interdependence and prevention, on support for progressive children's mental health policies. We find that these values do not work as well as previous values tested and so stand by our earlier recommendation that prosperity and ingenuity do best at activating this support.
- The Power of levelness: Making Child Mental Health Visible and Concrete Through a Simplifying Model (2010). This report presents "Levelness" as a simplifying model that was effective in helping people understand the science of child mental health. It also reports, in summary and detail, the research process of developing and testing the model.
- Destiny or Destructive Environments: How Peer Discourse Sessions Toggle Between Child Mental Health and Illness (2010). This report shares the results of 8 peer discourse sessions conducted in 3 U.S. cities with diverse groups of civically engaged people about child mental health. This research demonstrates the utility of simplifying models in translating the science of mental health to lay audiences and the necessity of both simplifying models and values for garnering support for social policies that can both prevent mental health problems and promote good mental health in children.
- Children's Mental Health: A Review of the Scientific Discourse (2009). This report offers an extensive literature review as well as expert interviews to begin to document the story that experts wish to tell about child and family mental health.
- Conflicting Models of Mind in Mind: Mapping the Gaps Between the Expert and the Public Understanding of Child Mental Health as Part of Strategic Frame Analysis (2009). This report examines the differences between the ways that members of the scientific community and the general public think about concepts of mental health, and mental illness in relation to young children. Dominant cultural models for children's mental health are identified and suggestions for further research are provided.
- Competing Frames of Mental Health and Mental Illness: Media Frames and the Public Understandings of Child Mental Health (2009) examines 80 news articles focused on child mental health drawn from large and regional newspapers May 2008 – May 2009. News coverage is analyzed from both a descriptive perspective and a cognitive perspective, suggesting how media frames interact with the cultural models of child mental health documented in other research.
- Advancing Support for Child Mental Health Policies: Early Results from Experimental Research (2009) reports on the effects of various frame elements (values, child development principles and simplifying models) on child mental health policy preferences.
- Child Mental Health Interim Video (2009) The following are excerpts from a series of forty nine interviews with the general public that The FrameWorks Institute conducted in Phoenix, AZ in 2009. These interviews constitute initial experiments with candidate simplifying models that emerged from FrameWorks research on how Americans think about Child Mental Health.