What I do
Behavioral health problems in childhood and adolescence affect thousands of young people and exact significant social and economic costs. These problems include anxiety and depression, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, aggression and violence, school dropout, and risky sexual activity. Unchecked behavioral health problems early in life cause deep, often long-term damage to children and youth, families, schools and communities. They also perpetuate social inequities, with social groups characterized by gender, race, ethnicity, income and sexual orientation experiencing disproportionately high levels of behavioral health problems. My work focuses on designing and testing preventive interventions that aim to reduce behavioral health problems in young people. I have a personal goal to see more social work practitioners and researchers involved in efforts to promote healthy youth development and prevent behavioral health problems in young people.
children and youth, disparities, evidence-based practice/implementation science, intervention research, K-12 education, mental and behavioral health, public policy
Jeff Jenson, Ph.D., is the Philip and Eleanor Winn Endowed Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver. His research focuses on the application of a public health approach to preventing child and adolescent health and behavior problems and on the evaluation of preventive interventions aimed at promoting healthy youth development. Dr. Jenson has published seven books and numerous articles and chapters on topics of child and adolescent development and prevention science. His books include Preventing child and adolescent problem behavior: Evidence-based strategies in schools, families, and communities (2014) and Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective (2016), a recipient of the Best Edited Book Award from the Society for Research on Adolescence. Dr. Jenson is the Founding Chair and current Steering Committee member of the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health and a co-author of Unleashing the Power of Prevention, a framework aimed at helping communities and states implement tested and effective preventive interventions for behavioral health problems. He is the recipient of the Aaron Rosen Award from the Society for Social Work and Research and the Distinguished Scholar and University Lecturer awards from the University of Denver. Dr. Jenson is the former Editor of the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. He is a former board member and treasurer of the Society for Prevention Research and a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
- Ph.D., Social Welfare, University of Washington, 1988
- MSW, Social Work, University of Washington, School of Social Work, 1987
- MPA, University of Montana, 1984
- BA, Education and Sociology, University of Wisconsin (River Falls), 1976
Licensure / Accreditations
- Society for Social Work and Research
- Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare
- Society for Prevention Research
- Society for Research on Adolescence
- Empowering Disadvantaged and High-Risk Youth: A Community - University Partnership in Public Housing Communities
- The Effects of Youth Matters on Risk and Protective Factors and Antisocial Behavior of Elementary School Youth
- Unleashing the Power of Prevention: Advancing the Implementation of Effective Preventive Interventions for Young People in Communities and States
- Ensure the Healthy Development of Youth: A Grand Challenge for Social Work
Publications for Website:
- Jenson, J.M. (2020) Improving behavioral health in young people: It is time for social work to adopt prevention. Research on Social Work Practice, 30, 707-711.
- Jenson, J.M., Veeh, C., Anyon, Y., St. Mary, J., Calhoun, M., Tejada, J., & Lechuga-Pena, S. (2018). Effects of an afterschool program on the academic outcomes of children and youth residing in public housing neighborhoods: A quasi-experimental study. Children and Youth Services Review, 88, 211-217.
- Jenson, J.M., & Hawkins, J.D. (2018). Ensuring healthy development for all youth: Unleashing the power of prevention. In R. Fong, J. Lubben, & R.P. Barth (Eds.), Grand challenges for social work and society: Social progress engineered by science. (pp. 18-35). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Hawkins, J.D., Jenson, J.M., Catalano, R.F., Fraser, M.W., Botvin, G.J., Shapiro, V., . . . Stone, S. (2016). Unleashing the power of prevention. American Journal of Medical Research, 3, 39-74.
- Jenson, J.M., & Fraser, M.W. (2016). Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective, 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Jenson, J.M., & Bender, K.A. Preventing child and adolescent problem behavior. Evidence-based strategies in schools, families, and communities. (2014). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Jenson, J.M., Alter, C.F., Nicotera, N., Anthony, E.K., & Forrest-Bank, S.S. (2013). Risk, resilience, and positive youth development: Developing effective community programs for high-risk youth. Lessons from the Denver Bridge Project. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Kay M. Stephenson Faculty Citizenship Award, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, 2017.
- Fellow, Society for Social Work and Research, 2013.
- Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, 2011.
- Aaron Rosen Distinguished Scholar and Lecturer, Society for Social Work and Research, 2009.
- Excellence in Research Award, Society for Social Work and Research, 2009.
- Social Policy Award for Best Edited Book, Society for Research on Adolescence, 2008.
- University Lecturer, University of Denver, 2007.
- Distinguished Scholar Award, University of Denver, 2003.
- Lowell Bennion Distinguished Public Service Professor Award, University of Utah, 1994.