What is Prevention?

Most researchers and practitioners define prevention as those interventions which are conducted before people meet the formal criteria of a depressive disorder according to the DSM-5. There are three types of prevention, universal, selective and indicated prevention.

Acute and maintenance treatment are aimed at people who have established disorders meeting diagnostic criteria. Three types of prevention can be discerned:

  1. universal prevention, which is aimed at the general population or parts of the general population, regardless of whether they have a higher than average risk of developing a disorder (e.g., school programs or mass media campaigns);
  2. selective prevention which is aimed at high-risk groups, who have not yet developed a mental disorder; and
  3. indicated prevention which is aimed at individuals who have some symptoms of a mental disorder but do not meet diagnostic criteria.


A comprehensive model of mental health care and the three components of prevention.