Encourages Dinnertime Conversations about Drugs, Alcohol and Mental Health
On Wednesday, November 17, families are encouraged to join in the sixth annual Harford County Night of Conversation by having dinner together and talking about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. To help families start the conversation, the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy has a website with tips other resources to promote mental wellness among youth of all ages.
Studies show that children who have regular family meals and open conversations are less likely to abuse drugs or become depressed. Other benefits include lower risk of teen pregnancy, lower likelihood of eating disorders, lower rates of obesity, higher self-esteem, a greater sense of resilience, larger vocabulary in preschoolers, better academic performance, and deeper connections to siblings and parents.
Most importantly, sitting down to a family dinner gives parents and caregivers an opportunity to learn about their child’s experiences, offer support, and encourage a positive outlook to help youth manage changes in their lives. These talks also help parents identify the early warning signs of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
“We set aside one night for these dinnertime conversations, then we encourage families to keep them going throughout the year,” County Executive Barry Glassman said. “My administration is here to offer resources to prevent drug abuse and promote mental wellness, but we know that no government program is as powerful as parents talking to their children.”
The website www.HarfordTalks.com has information for families, such as role-playing scenarios to help kids practice refusal skills, and other ways parents can support their children’s mental health.
More information about the Harford County Night of Conversation is on the county government website at https://www.harfordcountymd.gov/2773/Night-of-Conversation and available by calling the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy at 410-638-3333. Additional information and events are posted year-round on the Office of Drug Control Policy’s Facebook page.
Anyone who is struggling with substance abuse, depression, or a mental health concern can contact 1-800-Next-Step for help any time, day or night.