By Alysa Potter and Taylor Passarella
In a world filled with challenges, fostering hope in our youth is key to preventing the use of substances, alcohol use and the dangers of driving under the influence (DUIs). By instilling a sense of purpose and providing supportive environments, we can empower teens to make informed, responsible choices. Here are five ways to start empowering youth in your life, today:
1 – One crucial aspect of prevention is education. Comprehensive programs that go beyond traditional “just say no” messages can equip teens with the knowledge to resist peer pressure and understand the consequences of substance use. Highlighting the impact on physical and mental wellbeing, academic success, and future opportunities can resonate with young minds.
2 – Promoting positive peer influences is another powerful strategy. By cultivating a culture that values healthy choices, teens are more likely to surround themselves with friends who share similar values. Encouraging open communication between parents, educators, and teens creates a support network where concerns can be addressed and guidance can be provided.
3 – Community involvement is integral to prevention efforts. Collaborative initiatives involving schools, local businesses, law enforcement and healthcare providers can create a united front against youth substance use. Community events, workshops and forums can serve as platforms to engage teens in meaningful discussions about the risks associated with alcohol and DUIs.
4 – Recognizing the role of mental health is paramount. Teens facing stress, anxiety or depression may be more susceptible to substance use. Integrating mental health education and support services into school curriculum can help address underlying issues and provide healthy coping mechanisms.
5 – Empowering teens with life skills is a proactive approach. Teaching decision-making, problem-solving and stress management equips youth with tools to navigate the challenges they encounter, reducing the likelihood of turning to substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Start with one strategy above and build from there to support youth prevention, and remember there are many supports in our local area to help! Here are just some of the many programs provided in our community that focus on prevention and provide additional information:
Programs for youth:
- “WhyTry” is a Social Emotional Learning program taught to middle school students and an after school program called “Ambassadors for Hope Children’s Choir.” These are provided in partnership with the CARE Coalition, Four Corners Community Behavioral Health and Carbon School District.
- After school programs for youth and teens that build mental health coping skills, confidence, and refusal skills offered by Utah State University Extension’s Be Epic Escape the Vape youth prevention program.
Programs for adults:
- “QPR,” which stands for Question Persuade Refer, is a suicide prevention program that arms anyone with the skills to save a life from suicide. This is provided across our community by the Southeast Utah Health Department and the HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties.
- Parent/Guardian Education Nights equip parents with relationship skills and education on the risks of vaping. These are provided throughout our community by USU Extension’s Be Epic Escape the Vape youth prevention program.
Programs for families:
- “Quick and Easy Cooking” with “Prevention Topics” is a monthly class provided in partnership by Create Better Health, USU Extension, Four Corners Community Behavioral Health, Castleview Hospital, Marketing Elevated and the CARE Coalition.
- “CARE Community Connections” are on the third Monday each month, rotating through the cities of Carbon County to provide a night where the community can come out and spend time together during a free activity with a prevention topic highlighted. These are provided by the CARE Coalition and Four Corners Community Behavioral Health.
Preventing substance use, alcohol-related issues, and DUIs in teens requires a holistic and hopeful approach. By fostering a sense of purpose, providing education, encouraging positive peer influences, engaging the community, addressing mental health, and teaching life skills, we can inspire a generation of resilient and responsible young individuals. Hope lies in our collective commitment to nurturing a supportive environment where teens can thrive and make choices that lead to a brighter future.
It is through collecting and analyzing data that these strategies are developed. Four Corners Community Behavioral Health and the CARE Coalition would like to invite the community to join us on Nov. 28, 2023 at 9 a.m. at Four Corners Community Behavioral Health Price Clinic (28 South 100 East Price, UT 84501) for the dissemination of the 2023 Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) Survey results for Carbon County. Come and learn about what the SHARP Survey is and how the data is used at the community level to provide evidence informed substance use prevention efforts. To RSVP, please call Alysa Potter at (435) 650-8877.