New data resources are available to help us explore health issues for young adults. Some recently released summaries include fact sheets and infographics that are great communication tools you can use in your work.
An infographic summarizing the Institute of Medicine findings from a consensus study, "Improving the Health, Safety and Well-Being of Young Adults," visually examines pathways from adolescence into adulthood and features links to videos exploring the main concepts of the study. Access the infographic at resources.iom.edu/widgets/youngadults/infographic.html
The good news: Three million more young adults have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act; many young adults, while facing challenges, are healthy, safe and successful in working toward their goals.
The bad news: Young adulthood is a period where youth are at heightened risk for unhealthy behaviors, including binge alcohol use and illicit drug use, and when the first signs of major mental illness may occur.
The opportunity: Young adults are moving from systems that supported them as children and youth, including health systems, into adult systems that lack the same level of support. There are new opportunities for MCH programs to improve transition from youth into adulthood, especially for health services.
A new fact sheet from Child Trends explores adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and measures of adolescent well-being using data from the National Survey of Children's Health. Eight ACEs were examined, including parents' report of whether the adolescent lived with a parent or guardian who was divorced or separated, who died, or who served time in jail or prison; lived with anyone who was mentally ill or suicidal, or severely depressed for more than a couple of weeks or who had a problem with alcohol or drugs; whether the adolescent witnessed or experienced violence; and whether the adolescent had experienced economic hardship. Access the fact sheet at childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Fact-sheet-adverse-childhood-experiences_FINAL.pdf
The good news: More than 70 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 have experienced either zero or one ACE, as reported by their parents.
The bad news: Nearly one in ten adolescents have experienced four or more ACEs and as the number of ACEs experienced increases, the higher the prevalence of negative measures of adolescent well-being, including high externalizing behavior, low engagement in school, household being contacted due to problems at school, grade repetition, and fair or poor physical health.
The opportunity: There are many opportunities to support resilience among adolescents in order to lessen the impact of ACEs when they are experienced, and opportunities for prevention of some ACEs by supporting families. Positive Youth Development is both a philosophy and a practical approach to working with young people that is based in research and outlines protective factors that make young people less likely to experience negative health outcomes despite ACEs.