January National Mentoring Month
January is National Mentoring Month, a time to recognize the value and importance of providing guidance and support to those in need. Mentoring gives youth and young adults the assurance that there is someone who cares about them, who can help with every day challenges, and who lets them know they matter.1 In addition to other positive outcomes, evidence shows that mentoring programs can reduce initiation and rates of alcohol and other drug use.2
Mentoring, along with all types of substance use prevention programs, is important at all times, but will be of particular importance this winter and in the coming months. The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous negative impacts across the United States already, and virologists warn that the coming months—until vaccines are widely available— may be far worse.3 If that occurs, then many of the negative behavioral health impacts associated with the pandemic, including evidence of increased rates of substance use, thoughts of suicide, and overdose events could worsen as well. Prevention stakeholders should prepare for this possibility and expand programming efforts to address it.
As part of this, prevention professionals should understand the role that mentors, and other non-professional youth welfare stakeholders, can have for at-risk youth and young adults. This could lead to recognizing synergistic opportunities to expand programming reach, to even creating new mentorship programs for youth and young adults in need. More information on National Mentoring Month is available through MENTOR National and the Harvard School of Public Health. Prevention training and technical assistance on these and other topics is available through the Central East Prevention Technology Transfer Center.
- MENTOR National (n/d). Mentoring Impact. Available at https://www.mentoring.org/mentoring-impact/
- Thomas, R. et al. (2011). Mentoring adolescents to prevent drug and alcohol use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD007381. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007381.pub2/abstract
- Feuer, W. et al (November 11, 2020). U.S. prepares for worst four months of the pandemic as it stares down the ‘darkest’ days yet. CNBC. Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/11/us-prepares-for-worst-four-months-of-the-pandemic-as-it-stares-down-the-darkest-days-yet.html