(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Amid an ongoing national drug epidemic and a spike in suicide deaths among young people, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today visited with students and school staff in Franklin, Hamilton, and Lawrence counties to highlight a significant state investment in prevention education services for students in grades K-12. Governor DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson, and Director of Children’s Initiatives LeeAnne Cornyn.
Strengthening school-based prevention services is a core tenet of Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative. Governor DeWine worked to include $18 million in the state biennium budget to fund prevention education efforts and an additional $2 million to support prevention education training for school staff. Research shows that effective prevention services help individuals develop resiliency to better cope with life stresses and reduces the likelihood of developing substance use disorders, mental illness, or both. Some prevention strategies are designed to promote healthy decision-making skills, while others focus on creating environments that promote and support healthy behavior.
“An investment in our young people is an investment in Ohio’s future,” said Governor DeWine, who met with school officials and observed first-hand how prevention education is woven into daily classroom activities. “This funding will provide quality prevention services in every school, to every child, in every grade, so that we future generations of Ohioans will have the skills they need to prevent substance use disorder.”
The $18 million of prevention education funds may be used to support a full-continuum of prevention services and supports that target the general student population, as well as individuals who are at a higher risk and those who already are displaying early signs and symptoms of mental illness or addiction. Examples include: the purchase of evidence-based prevention curricula; materials for the expansion of existing evidence-based programs being implemented in schools and classrooms (i.e. Life Skills, PAX Good Behavior Game, Project Alert, Keepin’ it Real, Brain Power, Hey, I’m Here!, Crisis Text Line, Signs of Suicide, and more); youth-led programming; stipends for teachers to guide after-school and mentoring programs; parenting programs; and social norms and awareness campaigns, among other activities.
“There’s wisdom in the old saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” said Director Criss, noting research that shows a significant return on investment for every dollar spent on prevention. “Ohio’s schools are uniquely positioned to help educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs and to identify young people who either already have or are at increased risk for mental health or substance use disorders and connect them to local resources for help.”
The $2 million of prevention education training funding is available for Education Service Centers in order to train local service center or school personnel on implementing, planning, and gathering data about quality prevention programs.
“These resources offer schools opportunities to further design nurturing, enriching environments and practices promoting student wellbeing to help young people deal with the stress and trauma too prevalent in our society today,” said Superintendent DeMaria. “By encouraging partnerships with local mental health agencies, prevention becomes more central in efforts focused on social-emotional learning skills including responsible decision-making and self-awareness, empathy and self-management, all of which help students become resilient and persistent in life.”
For more on what Ohio is doing to address mental health and substance use disorders, please visit the RecoveryOhio website at https://recoveryohio.gov/