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The best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it from happening. When it comes to behavioral health, this rings true. There is ample research that shows addressing mental health as early as infancy can prevent behavioral health concerns down the road. Too often we hear from families and individuals that they wish they had known the signs earlier or done something sooner but unfortunately, there is very little attention paid and money targeted to prevention efforts. By the time behavioral health concerns are addressed, they have often already reached the point of crisis, or in the worst cases, death.

The good news is that there are solutions. In the Commonwealth alone, there are a number of evidence-based practices that show clear reductions in the onsets of behavioral health conditions, in the severity of behavioral health conditions, and in suicide rates. These programs involve individuals, families, schools, and communities and include screening, education, and whole health integration. We will highlight some of these programs here and discuss the need for increased investment in behavioral health prevention efforts.