14 Mar Government unveils funding to combat drug and alcohol prevention in schools
Public Health England has announced new funding to expand a programme that helps equip young people with the life skills and resilience to deal with the challenges they face with alcohol and drugs.
Mentor UK has been awarded a new 3 year contract, jointly funded by Public Health England (PHE) and the Home Office, to continue to develop and deliver the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) programme for schools and community prevention services.
Based on evidence of what works, the programme takes a new approach with a significant move away from the ‘hard-hitting’ messages, which could be counter-productive in trying to improve young people’s attitudes and behaviour toward drugs and alcohol. Instead, it focuses on building young people’s life skills and resilience to help them deal with the pressures they can face and develop positive lasting habits and behaviours.
Mentor’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Toole, said:
We are delighted to continue this valuable work and to get the backing of Public Health England and the Home Office for our ADEPIS programme. I think it helps signal a strategic break from the past where some educators lacked support about how to convince young people about the harms of drugs and alcohol. We need to promote a more evidence based approach to prevention if it is to be effective, and ADEPIS does exactly that.
Only by building children and young people’s resilience and life skills can we expect education programmes to be truly effective at preventing harms later on. It is also important to build local capacity to ensure development of effective ‘ecosystems of prevention’.
While recent reports show a steep decline in rates of children and young people smoking and drinking, instilling healthy habits and behaviours at an early age is shown to have a positive life-long influence.
Similarly drug misuse among young people is also declining, but cannabis remains the most commonly used drug among young people and in recent years the emergence of new psychoactive substances also raises new challenges for prevention work.
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, PHE, said:
We now have stronger evidence on what works to educate and influence young people’s attitudes and behaviour on drugs and alcohol. The ADEPIS programme is a significant move away from the well-meaning ‘hard-hitting’ approach, which can be counter-productive, to one which focuses on building young people’s knowledge, skills and resilience to make better choices.