Month: July 2013

Sharing Your Success with RAAPS!

We all know that the best way to improve practice and inspire each other in our work is through sharing stories of tackling tough topics, identifying hidden risks, and making a difference. We would like to invite you to share your RAAPS success stories! Your stories will be shared in future RAAPS communications (anonymously of course) for others to learn from and be inspired by.

Read our latest RAAPS success story:

A 14 year old male came into our school-based health clinic and began the RAAPS survey. He disclosed that he smoked cigarettes and marijuana.  After delving into the subject, he denoted that he wanted to quit smoking.  He felt he only smoked marijuana because he felt depressed.  Depression was not something he answered affirmatively on the RAAPS form, but by asking about his smoking habits, I was able to start an open conversation and help the patient obtain counseling. 

Please continue to send in your experiences and share your story!  You can access this feature on our website in the “Tell Us Your Story!” tab on the right hand side.   We believe the best of best practices come directly from our peers!


How to Support LGBTQ Adolescents

During adolescence, many teens begin to explore their sexuality. For all teens, this is a challenging situation, but for teens who are questioning their sexual orientation, or who identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it can be a particularly difficult transition.

This is a crucial time for teens to get support and understanding from their peers, parents, and other adults when they have questions and concerns about sexual orientation.  Did you know that question 15 on the RAAPS survey addresses supporting sexual orientation?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued its last statement on homosexuality and adolescents in 2004.  The July 2013 issue of Pediatrics, a journal of the AAP, updates the policy written in 2004.  The policy begins, “Although most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are quite resilient and emerge from adolescence as healthy adults, the effects of homophobia and heterosexism can contribute to health disparities in mental health with higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation, higher rates of substance abuse, and more sexually transmitted and HIV infections.”

Some key recommendations of the policy include:

  • – Pediatricians’ offices should be teen-friendly and welcoming to all adolescents, regardless of sexual orientation and behavior; this includes training all office staff and ensuring that office forms do not presume heterosexuality of patients (or parents).
  • – Pediatricians who provide care to sexual minority youth should follow prevention and screening guidelines.
  • – All adolescents should have a confidential adolescent psychosocial history. Verbal histories and/or written questionnaires should use a gender-neutral approach. Screening and referral for depression, suicidality, other mood disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders should be included.
  • – Strengths, resources, and risks should be assessed, and targeted behavioral interventions should be implemented to allow the adolescent to maximize strengths and acknowledge and minimize risky behaviors.
  • – Pediatricians should be available to answer questions, to correct misinformation, and to provide the context that being LGBTQ is normal, just different.
  • – Transgender adolescents need to be supported and affirmed; they need education and referral for the process of transition and about avoiding the pitfalls of using treatments that were not prescribed by a licensed physician.

The full committee report with all of the recommendations is available on AAP’s website.

Interested in learning more about our screening tool and how it can help to address sexual orientation in adolescence while meeting the guidelines of the new AAP policy?  Contact us today!


Talking with Teens About Risky Behaviors: Simple, Successful Strategies

Save the date!  The University of Michigan Health System Adolescent Health Initiative is hosting the first state-wide conference on adolescent health in Michigan!  Come join us at this one-day event as we learn how to translate knowledge on working with adolescents into practice.  National and state speakers will share the latest news on adolescent health.  The conference will take place on April 4, 2014 in Ypsilanti, MI.

Conference attendees will include physicians, health educators, health professionals, nurse practitioners, social workers, students, and others who work in any type of healthcare provider capacity with adolescents.

Click here to view the full agenda.  Make sure to register for Dr. Salerno’s presentation “Talking with Teens About Risky Behaviors: Simple, Successful Strategies” at 10am.

Click here to learn more about submitting a poster abstract.  Poster abstract submissions are due by September 30th!

If you are unable to attend Dr. Salerno’s presentation and would like to meet individually to discuss how quality risk screening can improve adolescent health, contact us via email or call  1.855-pos4chg (767-4244) to schedule a meeting.  We’d love to connect with you.

You will not want to miss out on this great event!

Adolescents and Alcohol

Did you know that more teens take their first drink of alcohol in June and July than any other months?  With the summer months upon us, we find it important to take a close look into adolescent alcohol use and how to talk to teens about options for being safe when found in a situation involving alcohol.

The pressure to drink alcohol is at its highest during the adolescent years. Teen alcohol use varies across states: 15% of high school students in Utah had a drink in the last 30 days, as compared to 44% in Louisiana.  Nationally, the average was 39% in 2011, and percentages were almost identical for boys (39%) and girls (38%).  Find out more about student reports of alcohol use nationally and in your state with the Office of Adolescent Health’s searchable map.

Binge drinking – or heavy consumption of alcohol in one sitting – is also a problem for adolescents, with 26% of high school students reporting binge drinking within the past month.  Teens who drink are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim of perpetrator of a sexual assault. One study found that 23% of students who reported having sexual intercourse during the past three months also reported drinking alcohol or using drugs before their last sexual intercourse experience.

Screening and brief interventions by healthcare providers can result in lasting reductions in drinking levels and alcohol-related problems.  Find out more strategies for healthcare providers by glancing at our website.  Question 11 on our RAAPS survey helps to start the conversation on adolescent alcohol use.

Talk with teens about their alcohol use and give them options for being safe when they find themselves in a situation involving alcohol:

  • – Bring your own non-alcohol drink to a party
  • – Carry around a cup filled with juice, soda or water
  • – Don’t accept drinks from others or leave your drink unattended
  • – If you are given a drink with alcohol, go to the bathroom and dump it in the sink
  • – Use an excuse to say no such as, I can’t, I have to get up early tomorrow to (work, study,…)”, “I already got in huge trouble once for drinking, I can’t do it again”, or “My parents would kill me!”


Supporting Educational Access for Pregnant and Parenting Teens

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 329,000 young women ages 15 to 19 years in the United States were reported to have given birth in 2011?  Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. An astounding 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.

Some may call this a time to celebrate as birth rates are declining for teens ages 15-19.  It is unclear the reason for the decline; however, teens are reporting less sexual activity and increased contraception use than in previous years.  Unfortunately, there is still a large population of pregnant and parenting teens in the United States.  We feel compelled to discuss how we can support the academic success of those pregnant and parenting students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education issued a pamphlet and a Dear Colleague Letter discussing just this issue.  The pamphlet, which was sent to all school districts, colleges, and universities across the country, provides information about the pregnant and parenting student requirements contained in the Department’s regulation implementing Title IX.  Strategies for addressing the educational needs of pregnant or parenting students are included.

Educating pregnant and parenting students, their family members and school and health care professionals is a step in the right direction to assist in supporting the academic success of all students.  For more information about Office of Civil Rights and the anti-discrimination statutes that it enforces, visit the Office of Civil Rights website. The Dear Colleague letter and accompanying pamphlet are both available for download.