Meeting Students a Where they are
Collaborating to educate youth about the risks of substance use
About McCall Behavioral Health Network
In keeping with its vision — to help individuals, families, and communities overcome adversity and achieve wellness — the McCall Behavioral Health Network has been committed to building strong, resilient communities since 1970. As the substance use and overdose epidemic continues to grow throughout Connecticut and across the country, the need for prevention education is more prevalent than ever. The Northwest Corner Prevention Network (NCPN), led by McCall with support from FCH and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, is focused on long-term strategies to prevent substance abuse among youth. By changing community norms surrounding substance use, the overarching goal is to support youth in making healthy, informed decisions and delay the age of first substance use.
According to a 2012 student survey, the average age of first alcohol use [among Region One students] was 11.9 years and first marijuana use was 13.2 years.
From “A Collaborative Approach to Address Youth Substance Abuse in the Northwest Corner,” Northwest Corner Prevention Coalition (February 2016)
Our Work with McCall Behavioral Health Network
At FCH, we believe in pursuing opportunities that improve underlying living conditions that influence health — hence our support of McCall’s work, via NCPN, in the Region One School District. Because the risks associated with substance abuse are in part a function of one’s environment, the second prong of our five-year prevention effort — in partnership with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Northwest Corner Fund — focuses on preventing substance use among youth. This collective effort targets key periods of transition (such as the start of middle- and high-school) as prime opportunities for educating young people about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use via an approach intentionally designed to mirror the CDC’s Drug Free Community model.
Beyond the grant funds and technical assistance (which allowed for implementation of the Botvin LifeSkills program in schools, proven to reduce drug and alcohol use by up to 75 and 60 percent respectively), FCH provided NCPN with funding for a trend analysis of five Development Assets surveys (designed to understand the myriad factors supporting youth development and assess risk use behavior) — all of which stands to make the community a better, healthier place for youth and families to thrive.