Adolescence is an important time for promoting health and preventing disease; one that is sometimes overlooked. Most of the nation’s 42 million adolescents are generally healthy. In recent years, the United States has seen declines in teen births, smoking, and substance use, as well as higher academic achievement for younger adolescents. However, all adolescents can benefit from guidance on how to improve their health and development during these years—and for some, serious challenges remain. Learn more about Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG) in the sections below and get your networks to join the call-to-action with the TAG Toolkit (PDF, 31 pages).
What is TAG?
Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG) builds on previous national initiatives in adolescent health. The previous Office of Adolescent Health (now the Office of Population Affairs, OPA) convened leaders of national organizations in the fields of health, social services, and education; faith-based communities; as well as parent- and youth-serving groups to develop and implement TAG. These groups identified the five essentials for adolescent health and the possible roles and responsibilities that, together, have helped inform this national effort.
TAG calls upon organizations and individuals working with adolescents to prioritize activities that improve adolescent health, including physical, social, emotional, and behavioral health.
The goal of TAG is simple: to spark actions that can support the healthy development of all of America’s adolescents. TAG offers concrete roles and responsibilities for stakeholders who have direct contact with adolescents and influence among them, including professionals from out-of-school, community-based, faith-based, education, healthcare, public health, and social service settings. TAG builds on prior and ongoing initiatives to improve adolescent health, including Healthy People 2020, a 10-year plan for improving the nation’s health, including national objectives to improve adolescent health, development, and well-being.
TAG also provides parents, families, and adolescents with resources and ideas for action to support teen health, prevent problems, and locate services.
As TAG was being developed, stakeholder input on what to call this initiative was sought. What to call a financially modest but visionary effort intended to spur broad participation and actions to improve adolescent health and development by focusing on the positives and opportunities of adolescence, as well as the risks?
The name "TAG" is intended to reflect that vision. A great deal is known about effective approaches for working with adolescents, and that information can be used to take concrete action to support their health and healthy development. Those who care about adolescents are urged to think of ways to prioritize adolescent health in their work and personal life, to act to promote their health through investments and programs, and to support adolescents’ overall growth today and into the future.
The playful nature of the name “TAG” harkens back to the joys of playing tag in early childhood, and serves as a reminder that adolescents are still children, not just small adults. They still like to play and still need adults to guide and support them during this critical developmental period.
"TAG" also reminds us to recognize and appreciate each adolescent as the individual he or she is. We identify individuals with name tags, the military issues "dog" tags, we tag people's pictures online, and even see neighborhood blocks or areas tagged with graffiti.
Finally, the name “TAG” conveys the idea that this effort involves multiple players, and is not the responsibility of a single entity. Adults and others who care about adolescents are urged to think of ways to prioritize adolescent health, to act to promote their health through investments and programs, and to support adolescents’ overall growth today and into the future.
TAG, you're it!
Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® and the logo design are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.