Daniel Eisenberg

Nobel Conference 58

Daniel Eisenberg

Daniel Eisenberg

Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, UCLA

Investing in youth mental health at a population scale

During the pandemic, it has not been difficult to identify new, pressing challenges faced by young people—challenges that can have a significant impact on their mental health. Likewise, we can quite readily identify the impacts of new technologies on young persons’ mental health. However, while it is undoubtedly the case that both the pandemic and the explosion of digital technologies present new obstacles, mental health needs are not new; they are a universal challenge that cuts across time and place. Furthermore, while populations experience mental health challenges differently because of demographic differences like race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, it is also the case that there are basic mental health factors that are shared across almost every context. 

Economist Daniel Eisenberg conducts research into how to invest effectively and efficiently in the mental health of young people. Much of his work examines inequities in access to services and potential interventions to reduce those inequities. He identifies the cultivation of a nurturing environment—including family, neighborhood, school—as an important support for young people’s mental health; one that threads through most all communities. His forthcoming co-authored book, Investing in Children’s Mental Health, uses an economic analysis to examine which programs and services for young people can most effectively mitigate a range of later risks for health and mental health conditions. 

He serves as principal investigator on the national “Healthy Minds Study,” a national survey study of college student mental health, and facilitates the development, testing, and dissemination of innovative programs and interventions for student mental health. He is also part of a study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), on “Harnessing Mobile Technology to Reduce Mental Health Disorders in College Populations.”

Daniel Eisenberg is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA. He holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford University.

Eisenberg's talk: In the area of youth mental health, the needs and opportunities for improvement are seemingly infinite, and yet the time and resources available to address youth mental health are typically inadequate. So, as a society, what do we prioritize and where do we start? Daniel Eisenberg’s research is about these questions. We need to think about youth mental health as an essential investment, and we need to understand how to make the best investments with our limited resources. This requires careful attention to economic efficiency as well as equity in how communities and organizations address youth mental health. Eisenberg’s research examines what we currently know about how to make these best investments in youth mental health, and equally importantly, what we still need to learn.