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
There are three primary goals of National Prevention Week:
- To involve communities in raising awareness of behavioral health issues and in implementing prevention strategies
- To foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health
- To 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. 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. National Prevention Week is timed to allow schools to take part in a prevention-themed event before the school year ends, raising awareness in students of all ages. The percentages of marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol initiates among youth increase between spring (April and May) and summer (June and July)1, and the timing of National Prevention Week helps to educate young people and their families at this crucial time of year.
Make the Timing of Your Event Fit Your Community
Most organizations conduct prevention activities throughout the year, culminating in a community-wide event during National Prevention Week. If there are circumstances that make scheduling an event at the end of May difficult, there are other ways to participate. For example, you may choose to hold events during another week in May leading up to National Prevention Week instead. You might also consider scheduling prevention activities 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 can hold your prevention event, getting involved is most important. Whenever you participate in National Prevention Week, you join the nationwide effort to prevent substance abuse and mental disorders, show others that prevention works, and support the health and well-being of your community.
How Communities Get Involved
During National Prevention Week, community organizations across the country host health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, outdoor events, and more. Thousands of people across the United States and in U.S. territories attend these events and help raise awareness about the importance of preventing substance use and mental disorders.
1. The NSDUH Report: Seasonality of Youth's First-Time Use of Marijuana, Cigarettes or Alcohol. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, June 4, 2004. Website: http://media.samhsa.gov/data/2k4/season/season.htm.