The week of May 8th marks National Prevention Week, a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This is an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations, and coalitions in the community to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues, and create and strengthen community partnerships.
National Prevention Week is held near the beginning of summer, due to the increased risk of substance use and abuse occurring at celebrations and recreational activities, including graduation parties, proms, weddings, and sporting events. Schools are encouraged to initiate prevention-themed activities for the purpose of raising awareness in students of all ages. According to SAMHSA, the percentages of marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use among youth increase between spring and summer (April-July), and the timing of this week helps educate both youth and their families at this crucial time of year.
Beginning on Monday, each day of that week highlights a specific topic. In previous years, a major emphasis has been on the prevention of using specific substances. This year, some of the daily themes focus on prevention efforts.
- May 9th is Strengthening Community Resilience: Substance Misuse and Overdose Prevention.
- May 11th is Preventing Suicide: Everyone Plays a Role.
- May 12th is The Talent Pipeline: Enhancing the Prevention Workforce.
- May 13th is Prevention is Everywhere: Highlighting Efforts Across Settings and Communities.
- May 14th Celebrating Prevention Heroes. Why not honor a group or individual from a school, business, church, community, etc., who has “gone the extra mile” to promote a healthy lifestyle?
Since the first observance in 2012, community organizations across the country have hosted health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, and outdoor events. SAMHSA offers ideas and tips on how to host a community event around National Prevention Week.
SAMHSA’s website at www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week is a wealth of information that includes resources, collaborating organizations, materials, and a toolkit. Let’s band together as a community and continue to set the example that prevention works by promoting a safe and healthy spring and summer with positive alternatives to alcohol and other drug use!
Remember Prevention Works!