Health Care Providers
Adolescents have health care needs that are specific to their age and developmental progress. Many injury and death causes are linked to risk behaviors that start during adolescence. The major causes of mortality (motor vehicle accidents, homicide, and suicide) are preventable. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and substance abuse are preventable too. At the same time, youth will only seek care if it’s confidential. Providers should look at development and complex needs to identify health concerns.
Adults who provide services and support to young people can use the Texas Health Step’s Adolescent Health: A Guide for Providers. It offers tips on health and related legal issues in the adolescent years. Ask for legal guidance if you have concerns or questions on laws. Visit the Texas Health Steps webpage for a current version of the Guide for Providers.
Transition to adult services maximizes lifelong functioning and well-being for all youth. The American Academy of Pediatricians provides an algorithm to assist with transition at the appropriate ages. Got Transition has tools and resources for providers, parents, and youth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have resources to support health care providers. These tools improve knowledge of sexual and reproductive health care for adolescents. The new resources provide guidance on:
- Recommended services;
- Approaches to addressing important clinical issues; and
- Information on how to optimize the adolescent’s health and reduce risk taking behaviors.
Advances in technology mean today's teens are facing issues that no previous generation has ever seen. While some issues are not exactly new, electronic media has changed or amplified some of the struggles young people face. The prevalence of digital communication has changed the way teens interact with their peers and romantic interests. Because of this, many teens lack essential interpersonal communication skills like knowing how to pick up on social cues. Much of this dysfunction can be linked to the overuse of technology. Teens' social media and texting habits as well as how they consume media is changing the way they communicate, date, learn, sleep, exercise, and more. In fact, the average teen spends over nine hours each day using their electronic devices.
Here are some social areas (as identified by Very Well Family) teens struggle with every day:
- Sexual Activity;
- Drug use;
- Alcohol use;
- Academic problems;
- Peer pressure;
- Social media; and
- On-screen violence.
During visits, consider bringing up any difficult subjects. The young person isn't likely to respond well to a lengthy lecture or too many direct questions. Having a conversation about difficult issues is not something professionals should shy away from. Even when it seems like they are not listening, you are an influential person in that teen's life.
Listen to what the young person has to say. Try not to be judgmental.
Check out the AAP online page for adolescent sexual and reproductive health. The site provides ideas to assist and support health services to adolescents. It features a variety of resources.
Take the FREE Let’s Talk About Sex Courses:
- PediaLink Adolescent Sexual Health Curriculum Series;
- Caring for LGBTQ Youth; and
- Confidentiality and Billing.
Watch the videos:
Also visit these CDC DASH resources:
- Teen Health Services and One on One Time with A Healthcare Provider: An Info brief for Parents;
- Health Services for Teens web page; and
- Sexual Health Services factsheet.
Helpful Web Sites for Preventive Services Guidelines for Adolescents:
- American Academy of Pediatrics;
- Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine;
- Bright Futures; and
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Please contact us for more information at:
Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
External links are informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These external links may not be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For more information about Maternal and Child Health or adolescent health in Texas, please email TitleV@dshs.texas.gov or call 512-776-7373.