Mental health in head start: New directions for the twenty-first century

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Edward Zigler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article has two aims: to explore the historical reasons why mental health has been a contested issue in Head Start, and to describe areas of challenge and innovation which might further the program’s goal of improving the well-being of parents and children in poverty. The historical sources of silence in the program concerning mental health issues are noted, and recent efforts to bring mental health closer to the center of the Head Start agenda described. Four areas of challenge which are crucial in improving mental health in Head Start, are then reviewed: definitional issues at the individual and family levels, program-level consultation and services, system-level coordination, and macro-level policy changes. In each section, the nature of the challenge, current innovative practices in response to the challenge, and recommendations for further action are discussed. A concluding section presents a summary of recommendations for both program practice and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-538
Number of pages20
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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