Who Needs Prevention?
Another way to phrase the question might be, “Who faces preventable health and wellness problems?” Or better yet, “Who faces behavioral health problems?” Because behavioral health problems—the ones that stem from our choices—are really the only ones that are preventable. (For a more comprehensive definition of behavioral health, see our Definitions page.) Perhaps the best question of all is, “Who needs behavioral health?”
The answer is everyone. Everyone needs behavioral health. Though it is often mistaken as pertaining only to those who suffer mental illness, substance use disorders, or suicidal ideations, the reality is that behavioral health applies to everyone. Why? Because everyone is affected by personal behavior. Additionally, no matter how healthy your behaviors may be or how good your health is, there is always room for improvement. That’s the idea behind the concept of the continuum of care.
The continuum of care (illustrated above) is the idea that everyone needs some sort of behavioral health service, but what you need depends on your level of health and wellness. Additionally, it’s the thought that health and wellness are not just a point on line; they’re more like a range on a spectrum. People in healthier ranges need the behavioral health services nearer the left, and people in sicker ranges need the services nearer the right.
Notice that there are three different types of prevention: universal, selected, and indicated. We’ll talk about the differences between these types on our “What kinds of prevention are there?” page.