Following the Health and Social Care Committee’s call for submissions on the harms of illicit drug use, Mentor UK stepped up to use over twenty years of experience working with young people to address the question of how effective and evidence-based current approaches to drug prevention are?
Drawing on our work delivering drug prevention and education in schools, with families and communities in the UK and additional contemporary research, we identified three main areas of concern: understanding, investment and delivery. Specifically:
- To inform effective drug prevention and education, more work needs to be done to understand the attitudes towards and patterns of drug use among different groups of young people in the UK. Drug prevention work needs to bring together families and communities with schools and arise from their needs in order to be effective.
- Secondly, for drug prevention programmes to have a long-term impact, there needs to be more investment in local services that can support prevention in the UK and more support for continuing professional development for teachers and other staff when it comes to drug education and related issues.
- Thirdly, there is a vital need for the development and robust evaluation of age-appropriate drug education beginning with children at primary school level that continues in a structured way across a young person’s time at school.
- Finally, drug education in schools needs to be driven by and adaptable to the environments of specific schools and develop interactive and open conversations between students, teachers, parents and carers.
We look forward to hearing the outcome of the committee’s review of submissions and being able to share our response in more detail.