Each May, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes National Prevention Week: an annual health observance that is completely dedicated to increasing awareness – and promoting action – around substance use and mental health disorders. This year, National Prevention Week (NPW) will take place from May 13th – 19th, 2018.
The weeklong observance is designed to bring individuals, organizations, and communities together to raise awareness about the importance of preventing substance use and mental disorders. National Prevention Week is also intended to spark conversations among parents and children, teachers and students, mentors and youth, clinicians and patients, about the negative consequences of substance abuse and the magnitude of positive mental health. According to SAMHSA, the mission of National Prevention Week can be broken out into three main goals:
- To involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
- To foster partnerships and collaboration with federal and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
- To promote and propagate quality, behavioral health resources to the greater public
This year, the theme of National Prevention Week is “Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow.” Throughout the week of May 13th, and in the days moving forward, SAMHSA calls us to carry out daily acts of prevention: helping a friend make a positive choice, supporting a family member in recovery, talking to kids about the benefits of sobriety, educating a neighbor on mental health, or showing someone in need the path towards treatment. The goal is to build a stronger, healthier, happier tomorrow.
Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow.
Mental illness and addiction are two issues that we, as a whole, do not always like to (or know how to) talk about. Yet they surround us. So many people in our communities, and so many of our neighbors and loved ones, struggle with a mental health and/or a drug problem. Often, the two issues are intertwined.
According to a recent national survey, 8.2 million adults (over age 18) in the United States are struggling with co-occurring disorders— meaning, both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress or bipolar disorder. About two million of these individuals are merely young adults under the age of 25.
What hits home the most, though, is that less than seven percent of these people get the help that they need. Because of the stigma and shame that surrounds co-occurring disorders, many do not actively seek out dual diagnosis treatment for both their mental and substance use issues.
This is exactly what National Prevention Week is all about. It is about committing to daily acts to help others better understand the complexities of mental health and addiction. It is about reducing the stigma around mental health disorders and substance abuse, so that no one is afraid to get the help that they need. It’s about helping others see the path towards recovery, and about making positive changes in their lives.
National Prevention Week is also designed to teach our youth and communities about the effects of substance abuse, and particularly, the connection that drug abuse has with other health disorders. It’s about helping those around us make positive choices in their lives regarding substance abuse, in efforts to promote positive mental health. It’s about teaching, guiding, and safeguarding the children of today, so that they all have happier, healthier tomorrows.
Why May for National Prevention Week?
You may be wondering, why now? National Prevention Week, according to SAMHSA, falls within the timely month of May for a reason – right before summertime starts. Research shows that adolescents and full-time college students most often use substances for the first time during the months of June and July—when social transitions are at their peak. That is why it is so crucial to start prevention efforts now, in May, before youth get involved with addictive substances at all.
National Prevention Week gives us this opportunity. Schools, organizations, parents, and individuals can come together to raise awareness about the important issue of substance abuse. Each day of National Prevention Week holds a different theme to keep top-of-mind (and Turnbridge has a resource for you to help guide the conversation):
Monday, May 14: Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness
Reading Material: Identifying the Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders
Tuesday, May 15: Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse
Reading Material: Alcohol Addiction in Young Adults
Wednesday, May 16: Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse
Reading Material: Painkiller Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Thursday, May 17: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
Friday, May 18: Prevention of Suicide
Reading Material: Drug Abuse & Suicide: The Anonymous Epidemic
If you recognize any signs of mental health or addictive disorders in your young one, please do not hesitate to reach out. Turnbridge is well-known for our young adult and adolescent treatment programs, and we are always here for you. Contact 877-581-1793 to learn more.