About National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This observance is an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations, and coalitions in your community to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues, and create and strengthen community partnerships.

Photograph of large, diverse community hugging and smilingNational Prevention Week is held each year 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.

During National Prevention Week 2012 and 2013, community organizations across the country hosted health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, and outdoor events. Thousands of people attended these events and helped to raise awareness about the importance of substance abuse prevention and the promotion of mental health.

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 | 115 KB] and Strategic Initiative #8 (Public Awareness and Support) [PDF | 91 KB] 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.)

In the summer of 2011, the National Prevention Council announced the release of the National Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive plan to 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 [PDF | 238 KB] and Mental and Emotional Well-Being [PDF | 230 KB].


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

Last Updated: 01/31/2014