Published May 2022
The HHS Office of Population Affairs’ (OPA) annual May observance is now National Adolescent Health Month (NAHM). During this observance, the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) is emphasizing the importance of building on young people’s strengths and potential, encouraging and supporting meaningful youth engagement in adolescent health activities, and highlighting key topics in adolescent health.
Sustaining equitable, accessible, youth-friendly services is essential for adolescent health. It’s important for parents, caregivers, and health care providers to help adolescents learn to use the health care system. Unfortunately, many young people stop receiving routine health care after leaving pediatric care because they do not have the support they need to transition successfully to the adult health care system. Young people – especially those with chronic conditions and disabilities – can experience serious gaps in care as they get older. Young people who experience homelessness, foster care, and the juvenile justice system and who live in mixed immigration status households can have a difficult time obtaining health care.
Throughout adolescence, teens see providers that address different health care needs in various settings, including private practice, community health centers, school-based health clinics, and local health departments. It's important for adolescents to learn how to navigate the health care system at preventive health care visits and during sick visits. Parents and caregivers can help teens make the most of their visit to the doctor by using these tips to prepare for their adolescent’s health care visits. OPA has suggestions for parents and caregivers on how to support youth while they navigate this critical period.
Adolescents benefit from welcoming, responsive, and youth-friendly care. Health care providers can provide accessible locations and hours, create a warm and respectful environment, ensure opportunities for confidential, one-on-one conversations, and encourage youth to involve their parents or caregivers while also respecting their privacy. OPA has resources for health care providers to sustain equitable, accessible, youth-friendly services. Health care providers can support adolescents by creating a safe and affirming health care environment for all youth, and promoting necessary clinical preventive services adolescents need.
Adolescents can visit a Title X family planning clinic for high-quality, low-cost, confidential, and youth-friendly reproductive and essential health services, including contraception and information on how to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and more. OPA also supports Title X grantees to enhance and expand their telehealth infrastructure. Locate a Title X clinic near you and schedule an in-person or virtual appointment.
OPA’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program also funds programs that support youth in accessing equitable, high-quality services. EyesOpenIowa implements IN*clued, an inclusive, evidence-based program that uses peer to peer education to empower LGBTQ teens to access inclusive health care. Additionally, OPA’s Reproductive Health National Training Center ensures that Title X and TPP grantees have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to deliver high-quality services and programs.