SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week is May 11th – 15th this year, and it’s an opportunity for communities and organizations across the country to come together to raise awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health.
Herren Wellness, Prevention, and Recovery
At Herren Wellness, we don’t see people as their disease, but rather as complex and dynamic individuals who need to address and explore the ‘why’ behind their substance use and/or mental health conditions and build on their strengths and passions to achieve and sustain a meaningful and sustainable recovery.
We treat the whole person and help uncover the life experiences, personal relationships, wellness habits, and external influences that led to substance use and mental health conditions in the first place.
From there, we educate people about holistic wellness tools like fitness, nutrition, sleep hygiene, and self-care habits aimed at prevention, education, and skills that enhance and support recovery.
Goals of National Prevention Week
The purpose of National Prevention Week (NPW) is not only to talk about prevention but also to educate the public and design local strategies that promote mental health awareness and help deter and reduce substance use disorder within our communities.
There are three primary goals of NPW:
- Involve communities in raising awareness of substance use and mental health issues and in implementing prevention strategies, and showcasing the effectiveness of evidence-based prevention programs;
- Foster partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to improving public health; and
- Promote and disseminate quality substance use prevention and mental health promotion resources and publications.
National Prevention Week Daily Themes
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no public events this year, however NPW is providing daily themes to focus on major substance use and mental health topics that inform, educate, and encourage advocacy surrounding substance use and mental health disorders. The 2020 daily themes are:
- Monday, May 11: Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse
- Tuesday, May 12: Preventing Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse
- Wednesday, May 13: Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use
- Thursday, May 14: Preventing Youth Tobacco Use (E-Cigarettes and Vaping)
- Friday, May 15: Preventing Suicide
National Prevention Week Challenge
If you are looking for a way to get involved, participating in the #PreventionHappensHere challenge!
The #PreventionHappensHere Social Media Challenge Substance misuse prevention happens in a lot of places, spaces, and communities. SAMHSA is challenging all of us to take selfies with their #PreventionHappensHere signs stating the locations and environments where we are preventing substance misuse and suicide. SAMHSA created social media graphics accessible to everyone to help promote the challenge and get more people involved.
Participate in the challenge by following these three easy steps:
- Download and fill out your #PreventionHappensHere sign (PDF | 6.8 MB).
- Take a selfie with your sign in the place where prevention happens in your life.
- Post your selfie on social media with the #PreventionHappensHere hashtag and tag your location and your friends.
To learn more, visit SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week website.
National Prevention Week Virtual Activities and Events
Here are some ideas for ways you can host an activity or event for NPW virtually and provide discussions and public education opportunities for your community using a range of tools and platforms.
- Create a prevention lesson plan for local K-12 educators in your community that they can use to talk about substance misuse prevention with students during NPW. Explore the “Talk. They Hear You.” discussion starter guides and the Substance Misuse Prevention for Young Adults Guide to get ideas and find helpful resources.
- Develop a “Prevention Tip of the Day” or “Prevention Question of the Day” and share it on social media. Encourage supporters to share their perspectives on the tip or question and facilitate an informal dialogue about that prevention topic. You can also use the polling features in Twitter, Facebook, and in Instagram Stories to quiz your followers.
- Organize a substance misuse prevention resource fair on your website or blog. Create a webpage or blog post that showcases prevention resources that are in your community or available through SAMHSA and other federal organizations.
- Encourage people to write letters to their future selves about the choices they are making right now to live healthier lives in the future. Invite participants to share their “Dear Future Me” letters on social media using #DearFutureMe and #NPW2020 or create your own hashtag for your community. Host a video conference call where people can share their letters and talk about how their prevention actions are improving their lives. For ideas on how to write your letter, watch the NPW 2018 Dear Future Me video letters.
The Importance of Substance Use and Mental Health Awareness
COVID-19 has put people with substance use and mental health disorders at increased risk. Due to the quarantine, and additional time at home we are experiencing provides a unique opportunity to engage in conversations with parents, children, loved ones, neighbors, and others in our sphere about the importance of substance use prevention and taking care of our mental health.
There remains a lack of understanding and stigma surrounding substance use and mental health conditions. This stigma causes people to be reluctant to ask for help and speak to loved ones or medical professionals about their concerns. It causes people to isolate and withdraw from loved ones and society.
The mental health consequences of isolation (like depression and anxiety) can also fuel substance use and other maladaptive coping mechanisms, leading to further isolation, and ultimately a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
By raising awareness and increasing education around substance use and mental health, we are helping to identify symptoms, offer resources for help, and encouraging early intervention and prevention. The first step to prevention is to dismiss our preconceived notions, cultivate compassion and understanding, and break through the barrier of stigma.