Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
An animated video, online activities, a Skype appearance by vocalist Mario Barrett, and, for the first time, materials in Spanish are highlights of National Prevention Week 2014, held May 18 -24. The annual observance launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) two years ago to increase awareness about, and actions around, substance abuse and mental health issues, is being overseen by Abt Associates.
“Abt has managed the strategic planning, content development, coordination and execution of National Prevention Week since its launch in 2012, and it’s been very rewarding,” said Abt Principal Associate Meg Gwaltney, who directs the project.
New this year, she said, is a one-and-a-half-minute promotional video and materials in Spanish, including the Participant Toolkit, a 15-second version of the video, and National Prevention Week (NPW) web pages. Another important component of the observance, the Prevention Pledge, encourages individuals to commit to a healthy lifestyle. The Pledge also allows people to submit personal stories and messages about preventing risky behaviors and encouraging others to do the same.
SAMHSA and more than 60 organizations are holding NPW events throughout the week. At an event held today at the Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences in Baltimore, Maryland, students heard from Frances M. Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention; Acting Commissioner of the Baltimore Health Department Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey; President of Behavioral Health System Baltimore Bernard McBride; and Grammy-nominated R&B vocalist Mario Barrett, co-founder of The Mario Do Right Foundation. Mario spoke to the students via Skype.
“Last year, community organizations held more than 100 NPW events with more than 3,000 participants. Compared to the first year, there were marked increases in engagement in SAMHSA’s digital and social media properties, including a nearly 500 percent increase in shares generated by SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week Facebook posts and a more than 390 percent increase in organic tweets about the observance,” Gwaltney said.
“This year, we expect to build an even greater awareness and observance of this week,” Gwaltney said, “and we are very excited about this opportunity to put all behavioral health issues—including tobacco use, underage drinking and suicide up front and center.” Edelman, a public relations firm, and TMNCorp, a minority- and woman-owned communications company, collaborate with Abt to support National Prevention Week.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.