National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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The National Council for Mental Wellbeing, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), created this message guide and toolkit to support youth-serving providers in their efforts to prevent youth substance use. When developing these tools, the following activities helped ensure alignment with existing research and evidence and guidance from providers, youth and experts in the field.

The National Council is grateful to the more than 2,000 youth-serving providers and youth whose insights have informed the content of the Getting Candid: Framing the Conversation Around Youth Substance Use Prevention Message Guide and Toolkit.

Literature review and environmental scan

November 2020-January 2021

A literature review and environmental scan was conducted of data related to epidemiology and etiology of youth substance use and substance use disorder(s), youth substance use prevention and cessation campaigns and communications.

Key informant discussions

December 2020-January 2021

Ten key informant discussions took place with 22 experts in youth substance use prevention, including high school students, researchers, program directors/managers and youth-serving providers from a federal agency, non-profit organizations and public and private schools.

Online assessments

December 2020-June 2021

Initial needs assessments that informed development of the message guide and resources within the toolkit were conducted in January and February 2021. One online assessment of youth participants aged 13-18 (n=600) was conducted and weighted by demographic factors to reflect the target population of youth aged 13-18 across the United States. Another online assessment was completed by youth-serving providers (n=761). The assessments identified youths’ perceptions of risks, drivers of youth substance use, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to and delivery of youth substance use prevention services and gaps in resources for providers.

A second needs assessment was conducted with youth aged 13-18 in May and June 2021 to test developed messaging and identify preferred messaging themes and language (n=681). The results from this assessment informed the final messages within the message guide.

Virtual discussion groups

March-June 2021

Two rounds of virtual discussion groups were conducted to further inform messaging and resources within the toolkit. The first explored message themes and framing with two groups of youth aged 13-18 (n=19) and three groups of providers (n=20) during March and April 2021. The second round, in June 2021, supported further message refinements based on results of the second online assessment and included two groups of youth aged 13-18 (n=15).

Expert advisory group

December 2020-May 2021

The National Council convened an expert advisory group of 13 youth, youth-serving providers, researchers and health communication experts. An orientation to the project was held in January 2021 and two subsequent convenings in February and May 2021 involved sharing learnings from the online assessments and virtual discussion groups. The convenings also sought input from expert advisors on available and existing resources, as well as gaps in resources and provider knowledge and opportunities to inform and revise the message guide and toolkit materials.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $2,000,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.