Your leadership matters.

We all want to be done mourning the things we can’t do. We’re ready to get back to our healthy youth development aspirations. But, of course, we’ll be in this pandemic aftermath mode for a while; rebuilding lost and weakened systems and services for young people, helping them and everyone who cares about them get a grip on what happened and what comes next.

As always, young people guide us in this work: a recent youth-led virtual town hall hosted by AMCHP’s Youth Voice Amplified advisory council was attended by scores of young people from around the country, and featured messages of hope, encouragement and empowerment.

You are leading this work, too. In our recent report on survey responses from state adolescent health coordinators’ (SAHCs) in state health agencies, fully half of states reported managing some aspect of programming or reporting on National Performance Measure 10: Adolescent Well Visits (AWVs). In response, we’re devoting this issue of SAHRC Connections to NPM 10.

As public health professionals, we know that more holistic use of AWVs as a standard practice could fill the awkward and COVID-weakened gap in our nation’s approach to young peoples’ physical and mental health care. We understand that the quality of these visits is as crucial as quantity, and that “quality” hinges on the extent to which these services are designed for–and even by–young people. SAHRC’s Youth-Centered Care: Elements and Examples reminds us that the unifying feature of youth-centered, youth-friendly care is that it gives young people the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to transition to adult health systems.

“Transitions,” by the way, happens to be the theme of this year’s International Adolescent Health Week (March 20-26): transitions from childhood to adulthood, physically and mentally; from a pre-pandemic life into a life shaped by a pandemic; from dependence to independence; from leadership from older generations to this younger one. Meet the Youth Ambassadors representing 31 countries who are shaping IAHW 2022. Many states are also hosting their own events: Iowa’s SAHC Mary Greene reports that Iowa’s governor signed a proclamation in honor of IAHW. Use this multilingual IAHW toolkit to participate!

Youth-centered care also respects and responds to young people’s cultural strengths and needs, and acknowledges and addresses the barriers to care that many young people face. April, Minority Health Awareness Month, is a(nother) perfect time to give your community a boost in calling out and addressing systemic racism and health disparities. 

To finish where I started (with teachers’ strikes and mud), it’s easy to get mired down in what we’ve lost, what we still can’t do, and the knowledge that we’ll be here a while longer. The good news is that there is already an impressive body of work available to us. We don’t have to reinvent youth-centered services: we just have to follow that light at the end of the tunnel. Be well.

NNSAHC Insights

This space features diverse perspectives on what’s happening in adolescent health. Articles are submitted by guest writers from the Network and our national resource partners.

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