The week of May 9-15 marked the 10th anniversary of National Prevention Week. Thousands of people dedicate their time during the year to inspiring ideas and taking action to prevent substance abuse and mental health disorders in their communities. National Prevention Week is a week dedicated to promoting the work these individuals do and encouraging others to join.
National Prevention Week is hosted annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They provide a range of educational materials, promotional pieces, events, and more to create springboards for conversation. The week is a major part of SAMHSA’s efforts to combat substance abuse and mental illness in communities across the country.
More About National Prevention Week
Preventing substance use and the detrimental effects of mental health disorders is crucial. Especially after this last year, adolescents and adults alike are feeling more alone and vulnerable than ever before. Educating the general public about the growing issues associated with substances and mental health can make a huge difference.
National Prevention Week dedicates each day to a different topic of focus. Each year the topics change depending on which aspects are most problematic at the time. This year the topics for NPW are:
- May 10th – Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse
- May 11th – Preventing Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse
- May 12th – Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use
- May 13th – Preventing Youth Tobacco, Vaping, and E-Cig Use
- May 14th – Preventing Suicide
National Prevention Week opens discussions around several heavy topics that might be difficult to discuss otherwise. Thankfully, SAMHSA offers a platform for these important conversations to take place. The more aware people are about the severity of these problems in the United States, the sooner something can be done to address them.
National Prevention Week Goals
Every year SAMHSA outlines specific goals that National Prevention Week aims to accomplish. While meeting these goals might not be entirely possible, setting them points both professionals and community members alike in the right direction. What are this year’s goals for National Prevention Week?
- Bring communities together to raise awareness regarding substance abuse and mental health issues, to implement prevention strategies, and to draw attention to the effectiveness of evidence-based prevention programs
- Encouraging partnerships and collaborations with both national organizations and federal agencies alike who are dedicated to improving the health of the public
- Share and circulate quality resources and publications that focus on substance use prevention and mental health promotion
Click here to watch a video promoting National Prevention Week.
The more people understand the extent of the problem, the more resources that will eventually be available to those who need help.
How To Get Involved
There are many ways you can get involved in National Prevention Week. Whether you host your own event or make use of the many resources available online, there’s something for everyone to recognize National Prevention Week.
Though webinars are a customary part of NPW, this year SAMHSA provided an aggregate list of webinars from past years. You can find many educational presentations from previous years’ National Prevention Week events. Topics include things like substance use among youth, prevention in the workplace, and more. There’s a full list of past webinars available on SAMHSA’s website.
SAMHSA offers many different ideas to host an event at your school or community center. Past events have included health fairs and painting themed murals on school or community center campuses. Sponsoring a virtual event or an on-your-own-time fun run for prevention is another way to get the community involved. Having a community-wide moment of silence is a respectful way to recognize those affected by substance use disorders, mental health disorders, and the problems associated with them.
If you’re interested in getting involved or holding your own event, find the National Prevention Week toolkit here. You can let SAMHSA know about the event you’re hosting if you’d like them to share it through email or on their site.
And don’t worry about being “too late” for National Prevention Week, either. Though many events are held during NPW, hosting prevention events throughout the entire year is just as important.