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National Prevention Week to Focus on Key Substance Abuse & Mental Health Issues

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 | 05:54am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is co-sponsoring National Prevention Week 2013, which takes place from May 12 to 18, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The theme for this year’s observation is “Your Voice. Your Choice. Make a Difference.” It is dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. It represents an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations, and community coalitions to promote prevention activities, educate others about behavioral health concerns, and create and strengthen community partnerships. During the week, young people will be encouraged to take the “Prevention Pledge,” commit to a substance-free lifestyle and participate in the “I Choose” Project by submitting a photo to SAMHSA at, with a personal message about why they feel substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion are important. Additional information can be found at

During the week of May 12-18, 2013, there will be a daily focus on a different behavioral health topic to emphasize the following key areas:

Sunday, May 12 – Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use: Each day, nearly 4,400 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 start smoking, according to SAMHSA. Many will suffer a long-term health consequence and about one-third will eventually die from a tobacco-related disease. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, more than 70,000 teenagers in Tennessee are smokers.

Monday, May 13 – Prevention of Underage Drinking: According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 10 million Americans under age 21 drank alcohol in the past month, and many young people start drinking before the age of 15.  In Tennessee, 19.7% of youth report drinking alcohol for the first time before age 13.

Tuesday, May 14 – Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use: About 34,000 Tennessee youth ages 12-17 use pain relievers non-medically each year, while about 23,000 youth abuse or are dependent on illicit drugs each year, according to SAMHSA.

Wednesday, May 15 – Prevention of Alcohol Abuse: One in four children grows up in a home where someone drinks too much, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In Tennessee, this means as many as 400,000 youth grow up in an environment where alcohol use is unhealthy.

Thursday, May 16 – Suicide Prevention: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 10-24 in Tennessee and around the U.S. The rate of suicide in Tennessee is 14.4 per 100,000 individuals, higher than the national average of 10.8 per 100,000 individuals, which places Tennessee’s suicide rate 13th in the nation. For more information or to learn the warning signs of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go online to

Friday, May 17 – Promotion of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being: SAMHSA has numerous resources online at that detail ways in which local communities can help promote the mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being of all residents, no matter their age, race, sex, income level, etc.

Several activities are being planned by community coalitions all across the state. Some of them are:

  • The Metropolitan Drug Commission of Knox County will hold a press conference to announce National Prevention Week at 10 a.m.  on Monday, May 13, at the City County Building, 400 W Main St., Knoxville. There will also be a meet-and-greet with University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at 2240 Sutherland Ave., Knoxville.
  • The Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition will be working with students from the “I Choose” project from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, May 13, at Midway Middle School, 104 Dogtown Road, Ten Mile, and from  2 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at  Cherokee Middle School,  200 Paint Rock Ferry Road, Kingston.
  • The Memphis Area Prevention Coalition (MAPC) will partner with the Shelby County Health Department to present an anti-smoking activity for youth at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 13, at the Boys and Girls Club, 1910 Sycamore View Road, Memphis. To help the community focus on underage drinking, MAPC will also partner with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and local law enforcement to present Power of Parents at a neighborhood watch event at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, 491 E. McLemore Ave., Memphis. MAPC will also participate in the Mental Health and Wellness Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Colonial Middle School, 1370 Colonial Road, Memphis.
  • Stewart County Coalition will partner with Coordinated School Health and Life Change Community Church for a Suicide Prevention Training at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, at the Stewart County Visitors Center, 117 Visitor Center Lane, Dover.

For more information about what is going on in your community, contact your local prevention coalition. A complete list of prevention coalitions funded by the TDMHSAS Division of Substance Abuse Services is online at

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