The Garrett County Health Department joins the country in celebrating National Prevention Week May 12-18, 2019. This observance is dedicated to increasing the prevention of substance use and the promotion of mental health. The celebration brings together individuals, organizations, coalitions, states, and communities to celebrate the events and activities held throughout the year to raise awareness about the importance of preventing substance use and mental disorders.

“The more people we can get involved in prevention, the more people we can reach with the prevention messages,” said Sandy Miller, Prevention Supervisor at the Garrett County Health Department. “We increase the reach of our prevention team by helping our volunteers expand the prevention effort.”

In addition, the health department is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the Community Planning Groups, which started as grassroots organizations designed to provide alternative activities for youth in an effort to prevent tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.

The Community Planning Groups are led by Community Health Outreach Workers from the health department and are made up of volunteers with many different backgrounds. Currently, there are groups in Accident, Crellin, Friendsville, Kitzmiller, and Oakland, although through the years planning groups have affected 11 different communities throughout the county.

“The planning groups are at the heart of our prevention efforts,” Miller said. “Thousands of Garrett County families have encountered a moment when a team of volunteers at a planning group event have educated them about the negative effects of tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, and marijuana.”

Specific topics covered by this year’s National Prevention Week include the prevention of the following: prescription and opioid drug misuse; underage drinking and alcohol misuse; illicit drug use and youth marijuana use; youth tobacco use; and suicide.

“If you would like to get involved in the prevention effort in Garrett County, you are welcome to join one of these community groups,” said Miller. “We have Action Teams working on different topics, the Stand Together group tackling the Opioid issue, and community planning groups providing alternative activities and prevention messages in their communities.”

For more information about any of these groups, call the health department’s prevention team at 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111. The National Prevention Week is sponsored by SAMHSA.