Increasing awareness of substance abuse, mental health issues

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By Cindy Schultz
Special to The SUN

National Prevention Week is an annual observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of substance abuse and mental health issues. This national observance, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, brings individuals, organizations, coalitions and communities together to educate the public about the importance of preventing substance abuse and mental disorders before they occur.

The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are to:

• Involve communities in raising awareness of behavioral health issues and in implementing prevention strategies.

• Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health.

• Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

National Prevention Week is held each year during the third week of May, near the start of summer. Summer is a season filled with celebrations and recreational activities where substance use and abuse can happen, such as graduation parties, proms, weddings, sporting events and outdoor activities.

The percentages of marijuana, cigarette and alcohol initiates among youth increase between spring and summer, and the timing of National Prevention Week helps to educate young people and their families at this crucial time of year.

Health Policy and Systems of San Juan Basin Health works to reduce youth alcohol, tobacco and other drug use through community-level, evidence-based strategies. For more information, please visit our website at www.sjbhd.org.