It's SAMHSA's National Prevention Week!

This week is National Prevention Week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) annual time to promote public awareness and action around mental health and substance use disorders. At OMNI, we do this is by supporting our clients in their efforts to access the data they need to be successful prevention practitioners. Data-driven prevention has been popping up more and more lately—earlier this month, OMNI researcher Julia Simhai and vice president of public and behavioral health Katie Gelman presented at the Colorado Public Health Association’s Culture of Data Conference on Using Behavioral Health Data to Promote Equity in Prevention, and at the end of this month, researcher Natalie Wheeler will present at the Society for Prevention Research Conference on Big Data in State and Community Substance Use Prevention Decision Making. In each of these presentations, OMNI’s focus is on how to use data to assess prevention needs, make strategic decisions, and evaluate prevention programming. But what does this really look like in practice?

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At OMNI, data driven is the nuts and bolts of our research and evaluation work, and one of the important roles that we play is to translate that data for our community partners so they can make informed decisions on how best to implement their programs. This might mean crafting data visualizations to make data more digestible for community partners; facilitating data galleries (see picture to the right) to share information and guide discussion around how to prioritize needs based on the data; or improving access to useable data through an interactive system such as a data dashboard.

We’re also proud supporters of the innovative ways our community partners are using data to guide prevention efforts. For example, leveraging community data sources such as emergency medical service data to target where opioid overdoses are happening and using those locations to host prevention trainings and education; thinking about ways to utilize qualitative and quantitative data to identify health disparities and subsequent opportunities to tailor prevention programming to be more equitable; and better aligning funding mechanisms in support of data-driven prevention priorities.

We feel so lucky to be able to celebrate the important prevention wins our partners are experiencing in the substance use and mental health space and are excited to see where the data takes us next.