(WHTM) — The pandemic has highlighted problems in our community when it comes to mental health and drug use. The Wolf Administration visited a Dauphin County school on Friday to talk about the help that is available.

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Students in the Halifax Area School District in the Communities That Care Club gave a tour to Pa. Education Secretary Noe Ortega. The visit was part of the Pa. Department of Education and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs giving praise to the district’s substance use disorder prevention program.

“What we’ve come to learn in a lot of the visits that we’ve been doing is that it’s got to be student-centered, student-initiated efforts that are really going to work because they have a real understanding of where these conversations are happening,” Ortega said.

Drug and alcohol abuse is often intertwined with mental health issues.

The state highlighted the district’s youth-led clubs, Botbin LifeSkills Training and Too Good for Drugs and Violence offered in the 4th through 12th grades with over 80 members. Research has shown that certain prevention programs are proven to reduce the possibility that a student becomes a victim of substance use along with improved mental health and educational futures.

“We just work together to enforce substance abuse awareness, suicide prevention and try to get the school involved in as much school spirit as we can,” said Sadie Wilhelm, president of the Halifax Communities that Care club. “We do a lot of activities for the school, for the community. We’re trying to bring Halifax together.”

The pandemic has made it challenging to continue prevention programs in school, but Pa. Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith says her office spent time “intensifying our primary prevention efforts and strengthening protective factors such as positive school climate, decision making and coping skills and how to process trauma.”

Halifax is a prevention success story and the Wolf administration wants schools everywhere to take advantage of resources available.

To learn more about the state’s initiative to combat substance use and other prevention resources, you can visit the link here. Prevention resources for schools, families, communities, and the workforce are available at ddap.pa.gov/prevention.