Internationally, the mental health of children and adolescents is undoubtedly an important construct of theoretical, clinical, and policy level concern. Worldwide, five mental disorders (depression, alcohol misuse, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder) represent half of the 10 leading causes of disability and premature death; with mental disorders accounting for 15–30% of disability adjusted life years in the first three decades of life. This provides a solid rational founded in implications for population health as to why reducing and preventing mental health problems in children and adolescents deserves attention. Past research has indicated interventions focussed on building resilience through strengthening protective factors may offer the potential to address mental health problems in children and adolescents, and in particular aid in reducing such problems during times of increased risk or adversity. With childhood and adolescence being critical periods of development, there is a need to reflect on the strengths and limitations of resilience-focussed interventions and anticipated future needs of the world’s youth. This conceptual analysis identifies a number of future research directions that may meaningfully add to the evidence base and improve implementation, evaluation, and impact of resilience-focussed interventions. These largely relate to refining the understanding of how resilience protective factors relate to mental health problems in children and adolescents. Important issues and potential opportunities to improve the related research field include improved reporting of intervention content; improved measurement of resilience protective factors in intervention trials; continued reporting and review of evidence of association between protective factors and mental health outcomes; and incorporation of mediation analysis within intervention trials. There is a need for further intervention studies in this space to be conducted as rigorous trials of resilience-focussed approaches based on such evidence of association, with clearly posited mechanisms of change, and inclusive of analysis of differential intervention effects. The suggested implications for research made in this conceptual analysis will aid in improving the quality of the evidence base relevant to the fostering of resilience and prevention of mental health problems in children and adolescents.
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