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Adolescent Health

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Adolescence is an important time for promoting health and preventing disease; one that is sometimes overlooked. Most of the nation’s 42 million adolescents,1 who are between the ages of 10 and 19, are generally healthy. In recent years, the United States has seen declines in sexual risk behaviors, teen births, smoking, and use of some substances, as well as higher academic achievement for younger adolescents.2,3 However, all adolescents can benefit from guidance on how to improve their health and development during these years—and for some, serious challenges remain.

Adolescent health encompasses changing transitions within multiple domains, including the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and intellectual. The fast-paced development of these different domains can lead to phenomenal growth during this period. This growth can also occur at different rates, which can put adolescents at a higher risk for risk-taking behaviors and emerging mental health issues. It is important to understand adolescent development, environmental influences, and the risk and protective factors that can affect adolescent health so that organizations and individuals who work with youth can support the health and healthy development of all adolescents.

Resources

Got Transition
This program, from The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, is funded through a cooperative agreement from the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration. Its aim is to improve the transition from pediatric to adult health care through the use of evidence-driven strategies for clinicians and other health care professionals; public health programs; payers and plans; youth and young adults; and parents and caregivers.

Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century
This report identifies key program factors that can improve health outcomes related to adolescent behavior and provides evidence-based recommendations toward effective implementation of federal programming initiatives. This study explores normative adolescent development, the current landscape of adolescent risk behavior, core components of effective programs focused on optimal health, and recommendations for research, programs, and policies.

2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Results
These reports present information about the percentages of high school and middle school students who engage in certain risk behaviors, along with the status of school health policies and programs designed to address those behaviors.

Facts & Stats
On this Office of Population Affairs webpage, you can access the latest numbers and facts about adolescent health at the national and state levels. Find information on changing demographics and how adolescents spend their time.

The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents
This webpage from the Office of Population Affairs gives a comprehensive overview of adolescent health topics such as health outcomes, health disparities, and regional differences.

Division of Adolescent and School Health
The Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer additional information on adolescent health topics including fact sheets, data and statistics, and publications and other resources.

Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
This report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health provides the latest results from the survey, covering key indicators of substance use and mental health in the U.S. including findings on adolescents.

References

1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2014
2 Martin, Hamilton, Osterman, & Driscoll, 2019; Johnston et al., 2019; National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
3 Kann, et al., 2018

Other Resources on this Topic

Announcements

Collaboration Profiles

Publications

Resources

Youth Voices

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).