About National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance that focuses on educating communities about behavioral health facts and issues, and celebrating the work that organizations and individuals do year-round to help prevent substance abuse and promote mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. This health observance is an opportunity for people to get involved in prevention efforts that can continue throughout the year.

The inaugural National Prevention Week was held in May 2012, 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, boating, and camping excursions. 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.

Origin of National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week supports the concept that effective prevention of mental and substance use disorders requires consistent action. It underscores the efforts outlined in SAMHSA's Strategic Initiative #1 (Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness) [PDF 115KB] and Strategic Initiative #8 (Public Awareness and Support) [PDF 91KB] by raising awareness about substance abuse and mental health, and garnering public support through local events and nationwide participation. (Learn more about SAMHSA's Strategic Initiatives.)

The theme for the inaugural National Prevention Week was introduced in the spring of 2011 through SAMHSA's PSA Video Contest. The contest encouraged young adults, ages 18 to 25, to create a public service announcement (PSA) that showed how their daily decisions around substance abuse prevention and the promotion of mental health make a difference in their communities. See the winning PSA, “I Am More Than Meets the Eye exit disclaimer icon,” on SAMHSA’s YouTube channel exit disclaimer icon.

In the summer of 2011, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council announced the release of the National Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive plan that will help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. The National Prevention Strategy emphasizes that prevention should be woven into all aspects of our lives – including where and how we live, learn, work, and play – and that everyone has a role in creating a healthier nation. Two of the priorities identified by the National Prevention Strategy are Preventing Drug Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Use and Mental and Emotional Well-Being.

Learn more about these important national priorities and how you can incorporate prevention into all aspects of your life. Start now by getting involved and supporting National Prevention Week.


  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. Web site: www.samhsa.gov/data/2k4/season/season.htm.
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