Global investments in adolescent health harvests significant economic gains
Recently headlines broke across all consumer and health media outlets that signified the importance of investing in teen health from a global financial perspective. Like any other professional who is in the landscape of improving adolescent health, this kind of global attention and correlation between teen health and the economy gets me excited!
The news referenced a study that highlighted a small investment in “empowering and protecting the world’s 1 billion adolescents can bring a 10-fold return.” Here’s what it said:
“Improving the physical, mental and sexual health of kids aged 10 to 19 – at a cost equivalent to US$4.60 per person per year – could result in a 10-fold economic return by preventing 12 million deaths and more than 30 million unwanted pregnancies.”
I can think of 1,000 reasons to invest in adolescent health, but here are my top 5:
- With fewer teens giving birth each year, a country’s young dependent population grows smaller in relation to the working-age population, creating a window of opportunity for rapid economic growth.
- Keeping teens safe and encouraging them to make smart decisions can help to break the spread of poverty and disadvantage across generations.
- The rapid physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth and development that takes place during adolescence influences an individual for the rest of his or her life.
- In three out of four cases of serious injury or death in adolescents, the common causes are preventable. Support in healthy decision-making will help set a pattern of healthy lifestyles and reduce morbidity, disability and premature mortality later in adulthood.
- This generation of adolescents will transform all our futures!
How you can take action!
- The key to improving adolescent health is operating from a prevention mentality versus a crisis approach. Investing in a risk identification assessment tool will address the early onset of behaviors that can grow to be potentially harmful. Plus, RAAPS, a globally-recognized, evidence-based, standardized risk screening and behavior change counseling tool can pay for itself with the proper reimbursement codes.
- When it comes to talking with teens about sexual health, things can get awkward. That’s why we developed ACT Sexual Health, a virtual health educator where teens respond to assessment questions on a tablet or other technology device and receive sexual health education specifically tailored to them. Upon completion, ACT generates a personalized safer sex action plan, health messages and customized referral sources.
- Risk behaviors account for the majority of teen injury and premature death. In the face of these challenges, health professionals and parents need concrete, actionable strategies for productive discussions about risky behaviors. Teen Speak is a how-to guide for real talks with teens to foster strong relationships and trust-building during the most formative time in their lives.