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Posted on: March 30, 2020

‘Talk. They Hear You.’ Campaign Helps Parents Kickstart the Conversation About Underage Drinking

Chesterfield County Department of Mental Health Support Services

Chesterfield County Prevention Services 

March 30, 2020 

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA -- Practicing social distancing does have some advantages for parents and their children.

With school out because of the rising threat of coronavirus, or COVID-19, now may be a great time for parents to start talking with their children about the dangers of underage drinking.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and Chesterfield County and Chesterfield County Public Schools are once again taking part in the national public service (PSA) campaign Talk. They Hear You. 

 This national initiative is focused on raising parents’ awareness about the effects of underage drinking and empowering them to begin this important conversation with their kids.

Alarmingly, approximately 10 percent of 12-year-old children say they’ve tried alcohol. By age 15, that number skyrockets to 50 percent.*

The goal of the “Talk. They Hear You,” campaign, created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is to reduce underage drinking among children ages 9-15 by engaging parents to open a dialogue with their children that encourages preventative behaviors.

Parents talking to their children can have a huge impact, according to SAMHSA. More than 80 percent of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the primary influencers in their decision whether or not to drink.

“Many families are spending more time together while social distancing in response to COVID-19. This affords increased opportunity for having important family conversation,” said Melissa Ackley, prevention services manager for Chesterfield’s Mental Health Support Services. “Talking to your son or daughter about alcohol, especially at a younger age, may seem intimidating, but it’s important to start the conversation early, “More casual conversations are often better than a long, serious talk, so parents shouldn’t feel like they have to get everything across at once. Breaking this discussion into small pieces makes it more approachable for you and your child.”

The Five Conversation Goals: 

  • Show you disapprove of underage drinking.
  • Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.
  • Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.
  • Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.
  • Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.

Visit for more tips and information about this campaign. Parents can also download the “Talk. They Hear You,” mobile app to get tips and practice for this crucial conversation.

For more parenting support and classes, contact Mental Health Support Services Prevention Services, 804-768-7800 or visit

The Department of Mental Health Support Services, MHSS, is the provider of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance-use disorder services for children and adults in Chesterfield County. Prevention Services promotes individual, family and community behavioral wellness. It provides parent education, couples consultations, youth prevention programs, community education about mental health and suicide prevention, and consultation with early childhood providers.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Educators. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007

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