National Prevention Week is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.
Purpose of National Prevention Week
The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are to:
- Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
- Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
- Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.
Why Does National Prevention Week Occur in May?
National Prevention Week is held each year during the third week of May—near the start of summer, an important time for school, communities, and prevention professionals to re-focus on prevention! Adolescents and full-time college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on adolescents – 2012 (PDF | 704 KB) and NSDUH data on full-time college students – 2015 (PDF | 1.2 MB). The timing of National Prevention Week provides an opportunity for schools and organizations to host prevention-themed events before the school year ends, raising awareness about this important issue among students and their families. These are key periods of social transitions, a risk factor for youth substance use, and an opportunity to develop or strengthen the community, school, and family bonds that protect young people from substance use. More information can be found in The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.
Your Participation Counts
Most organizations conduct prevention activities throughout the year, culminating in a community-wide event during May’s National Prevention Week. If a May event is difficult for your community, there are other ways to participate. For example, you might consider scheduling prevention activities and events before or after the third week of May to accommodate the needs of your community.
Here’s what matters most: your participation! No matter when you hold your prevention event, getting involved is what really counts. Whenever you participate in National Prevention Week, you join the nationwide effort to prevent substance use and promote mental health, showing others that prevention works, all while supporting the health and well-being of your community.
During National Prevention Week, organizations across the country host health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, outdoor events, and more. Thousands across the United States and in U.S. territories attend these events and help raise awareness about the importance of preventing substance use and promoting positive mental health.
Each day of National Prevention Week focuses on a specific health theme. The themes for National Prevention Week 2017 are:
- Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use: Monday, May 15
- Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse: Tuesday, May 16
- Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse: Wednesday, May 17
- Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana Use: Thursday, May 18
- Prevention of Suicide: Friday, May 19
- Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness: Saturday, May 20
National Prevention Week Technical Assistance Webinar Series
This year, SAMHSA is pleased to offer a series of technical assistance webinars for community organizations to help them learn how to get involved in National Prevention Week. Register today(link is external) to get involved.
National Prevention Week Toolkit
The National Prevention Week Toolkit can help you host a successful event that connects your community’s efforts to the national observance. The toolkit has tips on choosing an event topic, hosting logistics, partnership ideas, promotional strategies, and more. You can download the toolkit in English or Spanish.
Another way to get involved is to participate via social media in the #PreventionPower Challenge. Learn more about how to get involved by visiting the #PreventionPower page.
For more information about National Prevention Week, please visit the official website here.