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4. Prevention

Effective strategies to reduce the prevalence of mental illness and addiction conditions and decrease adverse outcomes require a full continuum of care, including health promotion, evidence-based prevention and treatment, and recovery resources to support healthy living. Prevention is an often overlooked, but important, component of this continuum. The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is an appropriate expression, as effective prevention services help individuals become more resilient, cope with life stresses, and decrease the likelihood of developing substance use disorders, mental illness, or both.

Prevention in Ohio is grounded in the public health model, which focuses on improving the well-being of populations. Public health draws on a science base that is multi-disciplinary and engages the entire community through the social-ecological model. Prevention aims to reduce underlying risk factors that increase the likelihood of mental health and substance use disorders while simultaneously promoting protective factors to decrease the likelihood of mental health and substance use disorders.

Education and environmental intervention strategies are two primary approaches to preventing substance use disorders. Some prevention interventions are designed to help individuals develop the skills to act in a healthy manner. Others focus on creating environments that support healthy behavior. Research indicates that the most effective prevention interventions incorporate both approaches. Prevention strategies should promote healthy relationships at home, school, and in the community to build resiliencies and reduce risk factors that contribute to development of mental health and addiction conditions across the lifespan.

To enhance prevention programming in Ohio, the RecoveryOhio Advisory Council recommends:

19. School and Community Surveys

Expand the use of standardized youth prevention survey instruments (Youth Risk Behavior Survey and OHYES!) for improved statewide data that can be beneficial for the development of programing to allow local communities to compare their results to the state average and allow state policymakers to compare Ohio to other states.

20. Statewide Prevention Coordination

Establish statewide prevention coordination with all state departments and agencies to ensure best practices, consistent messaging, technical assistance, and delivery of prevention services across multiple domains.

21. Coordinating Funding to Improve Sustainability, Efficiency, and Effectiveness of Investments

Identify collaborative funding strategies that will sustain high-quality and effective prevention services across domains in local communities for all age groups and populations. This includes efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect and development of resiliency skills to help those who have been exposed to psychological trauma. Prevention services should receive on-going, sustainable funding from predictable fund sources to eliminate the grant cycle effects on prevention programs and services.

22. Community Coalitions

Encourage the expansion of community coalitions that include public and private partnerships with health care providers to identify local needs and coordinate best practice assessments and implement strategies targeting multiple domains across the lifespan with the collection of specific outcome measures.

23. K-12 Prevention Education

Designate personnel within the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to collaborate in the implementation of a comprehensive model that includes prevention education and social emotional learning. This model should establish health education standards for every student in Kindergarten through 12th grade and include policies that support positive and supportive environments; collect assessment data; train staff; establish referral processes; provide access to mental health and addiction interventions; screen for adverse childhood experiences and other behavioral health needs; intervene early when problems are identified; involve parents and school resource officers; and work with the community.

24. Before- and After-school Programs

Review potential funding mechanisms for before- and after-school programming as a component of a local continuum of prevention strategies developed with community partners.

25. Prevention Across the Lifespan

Disseminate models of prevention education across the lifespan to local communities that include, but are not limited to, senior citizens, families, and college students.

26. Drug-Free Workplace Programs

Prioritize the expansion of drug-free workplace programs through incentives and expanded technical assistance strategies.

27. Suicide Prevention

To prevent suicides, expand collaborative strategies to prevent suicide for all ages by requiring all boards of health, Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) boards, and community coalitions to include the topic in their community assessment, skills training, and planning efforts and to focus attention to high-risk populations, such as senior citizens, youths, first-responders, incarcerated individuals, military members, and veterans.

28. Expanding Law Enforcement’s Role

Recognize and strengthen the prevention role of law enforcement in schools and communities by providing training opportunities, including them in assessment and planning efforts, and implementing best practices that expand their presence as role models, mediators of conflicts, and supporters for parental, school, and community responses to substance use and mental illness.

29. Community Prevention Strategies

Increase efforts to educate the public about strategies evidenced to prevent overdoses, accidental poisonings, and suicide, such as safe medication disposal programs; safe storage of medications, including marijuana for medical use; and safe gun storage.