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What’s New

Communities Talk What’s New articles share information to help event organizers plan, host, and evaluate events aimed at mobilizing a community around evidence-based prevention of underage drinking.

Communities Talk About Virtual Session Recording and Prevention Success Stories


Communities Talk About: Young Adult Leadership in Addressing Intersectionality to Advance Prevention

SAMHSA’s Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives launched a new online learning series, “Communities Talk About…” The first session, “Communities Talk About: Young Adult Leadership in Addressing Intersectionality to Advance Prevention,” featured experts from top youth-led organizations and explored the importance of developing prevention strategies within the context of the intersectional, lived experiences of youth/young adults. Intersectionality is a lens through which prevention professionals can gain a better understanding of how personal identities—such as gender, race, class, ability, and sexual orientation—intersect and create specific lived experiences for people and communities. Check out the video on demand on SAMHSA’s YouTube channel to learn more about how intersectionality may impact substance use behaviors among youth and young adults and how young adult leaders can help drive success of prevention strategies that focus on the needs of specific communities.

Helping Adolescents Strengthen Their Mental Health to Prevent Substance Misuse

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on mental and emotional health of children and youth. As Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy states in Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory, “The challenges today’s generation of young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate. And the effect these challenges have had on their mental health is devastating.”

Data from SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that in the fourth quarter of 2020, most adolescents aged 12 to 17 perceived a negative effect from the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health. About 1 in 5 adolescents perceived that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.” New data from the CDC’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey (ABES) finds more than 1 in 3 high school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic and nearly half of students felt persistently sad or hopeless. Unfortunately, some youth turn to unhealthy habits to cope, making the prevention of underage drinking and youth substance misuse especially important.  

 Still, there is good news. For ideas on how communities can help, check out these what some communities have done to support their youth’s mental health and prevent underage drinking and substance misuse through Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking activities and events.

  • A Communities Talk event hosted by Strengthening Families Building Communities in Baltimore, Maryland, was led by community members, educators, and social workers/mental health therapists who discussed substance misuse prevention and mental health. Breakout sessions for youth such as “It’s Ok to Not Be Ok” focused on expressing feelings and not being afraid to discuss depression and substance misuse prevention and identifying future goals.
  • The Pima County Prevention Coalition in Amado, Arizona, hosted a Communities Talk event for 6th- through 12th-grade students from the Sahuarita Unified School District and Continental Elementary (K–8) School District. Ninety-three students attended workshops about building positive self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety, and supporting their peers when they experience stressful situations.

 The Center for Pan Asian Community Services Communities Talk event in Atlanta, Georgia, made the issue of underage drinking more relevant for participants by including the impacts of the pandemic on their youth, specifically related to underage drinking and youth consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism for pandemic-related stress and anxiety.