Month: September 2012

Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #19)

Do you have any serious issues or worries at home or at school?

The period of adolescence is often filled with increased stress over school, friends, or family.  As youth struggle to cope with social, emotional, and physiological stressors they may easily become overwhelmed. If this happens, inadequately managed stress can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, or other mental health disorders.

Did you know?

  • –  One in five youth ages 9-17 are estimated to experience serious emotional disturbances or other mental health problems.

Without appropriate guidance or treatment, these emotional and mental health problems could lead to poor academic behavior, family problems, substance use, unintentional injuries, juvenile incarceration, or suicide.

Family and societal stress may cause adolescents to act out in a delinquent manner. Adolescent ethnic minority groups often receive poorer quality of mental health treatment and are less likely to access services. Furthermore, African American youth, especially males, are more likely than other ethnic/racial youth groups to be referred to the juvenile justice system as opposed to mental health treatment.

Try these messages with youth:

  • – Everyone feels nervous, anxious or worried at times. It is common for new or challenging situations to make you feel this way.  However, these feelings should not stop you from doing the things you want to do. Talking to a trusted adult can help you to work through your worries and find solutions. Remember that you are not alone and that there are people that care and want to help you.
  • –  Learning how to relax and deal with stress can help you feel more like yourself.  Try some of the following: deep breathing exercises or yoga to relax your mind and body, get enough sleep and exercise, eat well, take a walk or squeeze something (like a stress ball).
  • –  Spend time with people close to you who accept you and make you feel safe, sometimes the people around you may not be giving you the support you need or deserve.
  • –  Remember to focus on the positive things in your life and work through issues one at a time.
  • –  Manage your time with a planner and with achievable to-do lists to not feel overwhelmed.


Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #18)

During the past month, did you often feel very sad or down as though you had nothing to look forward to?

Research has indicated that the decline in mental health and increase in behavioral problems during adolescence are occurring partly because youth experience massive life changes during the period of adolescence. These problems include negative images of self, depression, delinquency, and substance use. Depression or depression-like symptoms are serious problems that impact every aspects of an adolescent’s life. Left untreated, depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug or alcohol abuse, and even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or suicide.

Symptoms of depression often go unnoticed, and adolescents with major depression are likely to identify themselves as depressed before their parents suspect a problem. Adolescent depression is fairly common. Population studies show that at any point in time, 10-15% of children and adolescents have some symptoms of depression. Depression is treatable and while some depression-like symptoms are expected as teenagers adapt to the challenges of growing older, dramatic long-lasting changes in personality, mood, and behavior are signs of a deeper problem.

Try these messages with youth:

– “It is completely normal to feel sad, down, or lonely. We all feel this way from time to time.  However, sometimes you may need a little help to feel better. Depression is more than sometimes feeling blue or sad. It often lasts for weeks, months or even longer. If you feel sad or down for longer than 2 weeks, tell an adult you trust. Never be ashamed of how you are feeling or afraid to ask for help. Depression doesn’t always go away by itself.”

–  Here are some ways to help you begin to feel more like yourself:

  • – Talk with a mental health care professional
  • – Exercise
  • – Eat healthy
  • – Listen to music
  • – Journal to help you express your feelings
  • – Talk with a trusted adult or friend
  • – Go out and do activities you enjoy
  • – Sometimes medications are needed to help you feel better

– “Don’t get discouraged; it takes time to work through depressed feelings but you can get through it. Remember that you are not alone.  There are people out there who care about you and want to help!”

Resources for youth:

– CopeCareDeal is a mental health website for teens.

– TeensHealth is a safe, private place for teens who need honest, accurate information and advice about health, emotions and life.  View TeensHealth’s depression information for teens.


Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #17)

Do you have questions about abstinence (saying no to sex), condoms, birth control, HIV/AIDS, or sexually transmitted infections (STI)?

The increase in sexual experimentation that often occurs during adolescent years can have adverse consequences, such as sexually transmitted infections.

Did you know?
–  In 2006, an estimated 5,259 young people between the ages of 13-24 in the 33 states reporting to the CDC were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. This number represented about 14% of all persons diagnosed that year.
–  African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.  In 2004, this population accounted for 55% of all new HIV infections reported among individuals ages 13-24.
–  Minority youth also experience higher rates of STIs.
–  There are approximately 19 million new STIs each year, and almost half of them are among adolescents ages 15-24.

These statistics are particularly alarming as access to sexual health education for U.S. students in declining. The percentage of high schools in which teachers taught students how to correctly use a condom in at least one required course decreased from 49.5% in 2000 to 38.5% in 2006.

Try these messages with youth:

  • –  Many people with sexually transmitted infections don’t even know they have it.  Encourage testing at least once a year.  If you are sexually active and haven’t been tested in the last three months, encourage testing.
  • –  There are many different types of birth control, including abstinence, so make sure to talk to your health care provider about which may be best for you.

Resources for youth and providers:

  • –  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides leadership in helping control the HIV/AIDS epidemic by working with community, state, national, and international partners in surveillance, research, and prevention and evaluation activities. Find a testing site, statistics, plans and further resources.  Their hotline number is: 1.800.342.2437.
  • –  The National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention Among Adolescents supports adolescent service providers by providing web-based resources, evidence-based program information, and links to training and technical assistance to help prevent HIV/AIDS among adolescents.
  • –  National STD Hotline:  800-227-8922
  • –  National AIDS Hotline: 800-342-AIDS (2437)



Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #16)

Many of the consequences of adolescent sexual intercourse, such as unintended pregnancy and STI infections, occur because of lack of condom use or other methods of birth control.

Did you know?

  • –  Approximately 25% of teen females and 18% of teen males use no method of contraception at first intercourse.
  • –  Furthermore, 39% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse.
  • –  Among females ages 14-19, one in four (26%) either has HPF, Chlamydia, HSV-2 infection, or trichomoniasis, with HPV accounting for the vast majority of infections.
  • –  Additionally, 34% of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach age 20.

These actions have serious health consequences for adolescents. Despite the decline in teen pregnancy rates over the past decade, the U.S. continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates in the developed world.

Youth should be educated on the best ways to ensure they do not get an STI.  Many youth  may not be aware that many people with a sexually transmitted infection don’t even know that they have it.

 Try these messages with youth:

–  You should be tested at least once a year. Schedule an appointment for STI testing if you have had sex and haven’t been tested within the last 3 months.

–  Using protection is part of having sex.  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  Talking with your partner about using protection is the best way to make sure you are both on the same page.  It shows that you respect your partner and want to protect each other.

–  However, just because you talk about using protection doesn’t mean you have to have sex.  It just means that you care about yourself and are in control of what happens to your body.

–   There are lots of different kinds of birth control, so talk to your health care provider about which may be best for you.  If you are able, talk to your parent or trusted adult about scheduling your appointment.

 Resources for Youth:

– Bedsider is an online birth control support network for women 18-29 operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a private non-profit organization.

 – The Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign is a youthful, empowering social movement to reduce the spread of STIs among young people through information; open communication with partners, health care providers, and parents; and testing and treatment as needed.

– CDC National AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline: 800-342-2437

– National STD Hotline:  800-227-8922