By Emily Novick
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Adolescent Health
Anyone who has been, known, or raised a teenager knows that adolescence is a challenging time. It also is a critical period for learning, change and growth. The good news is that caring adults can intervene in the teen years to help set the course for life-long health.
In recent years, the United States has seen declines in the teen birth rate, smoking, and substance dependency as well as improvements in academic achievement for younger adolescents. Most of the 42 million American teens are healthy, but some adolescents are sidelined by obesity, binge drinking, school dropout, mental health disorders and other problems.
Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow (TAG) is a national call to action to make adolescent health a priority. TAG is a comprehensive, strengths-based, positive youth development approach to adolescent health. Its goals are to raise awareness about the importance of adolescent health, engage youth serving organizations and caring adults in adolescent health promotion, get adolescent health on the national agenda, and spur action.
"TAG is for all who care about young people and want to be a part of promoting adolescent health today and into the future", said Evelyn Kappeler, Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) director. "We know that positive influences, relationships, and healthy development during these years can set a trajectory for good health throughout life."
TAG was developed with input from leaders of more than 80 organizations from six youth sectors. They all agreed that all adolescents need these "Five Essentials":
- Positive connections with supportive people
- Safe and secure places to live, learn and play
- Access to high-quality, teen-friendly health care
- Opportunities to engage as learners, leaders, team members and workers
- Coordinated, adolescent and family centered services
The group then developed research-based, practical action steps and resources for professionals, family members and teens. We hope you'll use these action steps to expand and energize existing youth programs, build collaborations across agencies and sectors, develop state plans for adolescent health, and jump start new activities on the state and local level.
Some of the free resources you can download from the OAH website and use to put TAG into action in your community include:
- Current national and state data on American teens
- Videos with messages for caring adults
- TAG Playbook with the Five Essentials, specific action steps and resources
- TAG Toolkit with sample Tweets, Facebook and blog posts, slides, banners and more
- HHS Services Locator
How can you join the TAG Team?