It’s finally time to go back to school for many children in the U.S. After months of distance learning and navigating all the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and students are returning to the classroom. It’s a time of excitement to reconnect with friends and to re-establish a routine of in-person learning, as well as managing homework, sports and other extracurricular activities.
However, all of this is happening within the context of the ongoing pandemic and creating new challenges — including mental health concerns. Never before has prevention had a more important role in the lives of our youth. The CDC reported that people, including young adults, are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression and stress that have had an impact on their mental health and well-being and led to unhealthy behaviors.
As our youth and young people head back to school, each of us has a supporting role as a preventionist. Prevention happens everywhere in the community, all the time. We all have a stake in the health and well-being of our youth and young people. So, what can we do? Raise awareness and educate! We can support our families, schools and communities by raising awareness and sharing evidence-based resources and information to prevent the onset of unhealthy behaviors.
There are many free resources that the federal government has developed that provide facts, information and community activities that can be shared and discussed in community settings, at school, at scouting and sporting activities, at your local library and even with your community retailers and restaurants. Here are a few resources to help you get started in your prevention efforts.
For parents and caregivers:
- SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign
- Talking With Your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol
- The Sound of Your Voice video
- Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention (DEA.gov)
- Keeping Youth Drug Free
For educators and administrators:
- AlcoholFX Mobile App
- Teachers: Classroom Resources on Drug Effects – NIDA for Teens (drugabuse.gov)
- “Talk. They Hear You.” Student Assistance – A Guide for School Administrators
- Campus Drug Prevention
- NIAAA’s CollegeAIM – Alcohol Intervention Matrix (collegedrinkingprevention.gov)