Government funds school resource for drug and alcohol prevention

Public Health England announces new funding to expand Mentor UK’s ADEPIS resource into more schools and community settings.

The programme helps equip young people with the life skills and resilience to deal with the challenges they face with alcohol and drugs.

Mentor UK has been awarded a new 3 year contract, jointly funded by Public Health England (PHE) and the Home Office, to continue to develop and deliver the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) programme for schools and community prevention services.

Based on evidence of what works, the programme takes a new approach with a significant move away from the ‘hard-hitting’ messages, which could be counter-productive in trying to improve young people’s attitudes and behaviour toward drugs and alcohol. Instead, it focuses on building young people’s life skills and resilience to help them deal with the pressures they can face and develop positive lasting habits and behaviours.

The ADEPIS programme was developed by Mentor UK as a platform for sharing information and resources on drug and alcohol prevention and is the leading source of evidence based information and tools for alcohol and drug education as part of PSHE work.

The funding will help Mentor UK ensure the programme is able to evolve and expand, as well as enabling the delivery of briefings and seminars for teachers and practitioners. Almost 44,000 professionals have visited the ADEPIS website since May 2013.

While recent reports show a steep decline in rates of children and young people smoking and drinking, instilling healthy habits and behaviours at an early age is shown to have a positive life-long influence.

Similarly drug misuse among young people is also declining, but cannabis remains the most commonly used drug among young people and in recent years the emergence of new psychoactive substances also raises new challenges for prevention work.

Mentor’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Toole, said:

"We are delighted to continue this valuable work and to get the backing of Public Health England and the Home Office for our ADEPIS programme. I think it helps signal a strategic break from the past where some educators lacked support about how to convince young people about the harms of drugs and alcohol. We need to promote a more evidence based approach to prevention if it is to be effective, and ADEPIS does exactly that.

"Only by building children and young people’s resilience and life skills can we expect education programmes to be truly effective at preventing harms later on. It is also important to build local capacity to ensure development of effective ‘ecosystems of prevention’."

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, PHE, said:

"We now have stronger evidence on what works to educate and influence young people’s attitudes and behaviour on drugs and alcohol. The ADEPIS programme is a significant move away from the well-meaning ‘hard-hitting’ approach, which can be counter-productive, to one which focuses on building young people’s knowledge, skills and resilience to make better choices.

"While encouragingly young people’s use of drugs and alcohol continues to fall, the more common use of cannabis and the emerging risks from new psychoactive substances remains a concern. I urge all local areas to support the use of the excellent ADEPIS programme in their schools and among community prevention workers."

Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism Sarah Newton, said:

"This Government is acting to prevent the devastating impact of drug and alcohol misuse on our young people, their families and communities. I am delighted to be able to support Mentor to continue to deliver the ADEPIS programme, which helps keep vulnerable young people away from the harms that drugs and alcohol can cause.

"We are seeing encouraging signs that drug use among 11 to 15 year olds has continued to fall since a peak in 2003. I am hopeful that the ADEPIS programme can continue to have a positive impact on young people, giving them the tools and confidence they need to resist being drawn into drug and alcohol misuse."