Tag: adolescent risk

3 Tips for Even Stronger Connections with Youth

You know the scenario: you administered the Rapid Assessment for Adolescent Preventive Services (RAAPS) risk assessment and are ready to meet with youth to confidently discuss their identified risks. But how do you start the conversation? And once it’s started, how do you help guide them towards healthier behaviors?

Coaching youth toward behavior change is arguably just as important (if not more important) as the risk screening. Luckily, Motivational Interviewing (MI) is here to help. MI has been studied extensively and shown to be an effective approach with youth to reduce risks (like substance abuse, unintentional injuries and unsafe sexual behaviors). Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if improving your MI skills would be helpful in guiding your youth towards safer behaviors:

  1. What are you doing to connect with youth? MI helps create the spirit of how you’re talking with youth; it shows commitment to evidence-based strategies and helps improve quality of services.
  2. How are you communicating with youth on identified risk behaviors? MI equips you with strategies to improve your ability to discuss identified risks and motivate youth toward healthy decisions.
  3. How are you cultivating your skills in working with youth? Youth risk is different than adult risk, which means you’re going to need specific skills. That’s why adolescent-specific MI training is so important. MI creates an environment that allows youth to disclose information about their risk behaviors, improve their motivation to change, and seek advice on how to do so. Dynamic and engaging MI workshops can help you improve your skills in using MI to more effectively motivate the youth you serve.

 Before you can coach youth on risk reduction, you need to know the risks! RAAPS is a reliable and validated assessment and coaching tool that quickly identifies risk behaviors in youth and provides simple health messages to support behavior change and ongoing discussion with a professional; it’s developed especially for the needs of youth…and the professionals (like you) who care for them.

To learn more about how Adolescent-focused MI Training can facilitate those important conversations and help youth build positive attitudes, language, and actions, check out our newly released whitepaper: Adolescent-focused Motivational Interviewing (MI): Making the case for more effective communication with youth.

For more information on scheduling an MI Training at your organization, contact us at info@pos4chg.org.

No Fear: Youth Risk Screening

Connecting with teens is tough, especially when you’re a professional looking to discuss serious topics like mental health, substance abuse or sex. In short: risk screening can feel overwhelming, even scary—but that shouldn’t hold you back. According to the CDC, risk behaviors are responsible for 3 out of 4 (75%) preventable deaths and illness in youth. Having a trusted adult to confide in is one of the single most important mitigating factors in reducing youth risk.

Luckily, Rapid Assessment for Adolescent Preventive Services (RAAPS) is here to help. RAAPS is a reliable and validated assessment and coaching tool that identifies risk behaviors in youth and provides simple health messages to support behavior change.

Instead of letting your fears of comprehensive youth screening become barriers, let them be your guide! Here are a few examples:

  • Fear of not having the resources to address risks that may be identified. In addition to helping you identify key risks, RAAPS provides built in health education and national resources to help you navigate conversations around risk topics that may be uncomfortable. This opens the door for youth to connect with you as a trusted adult without you having to be an expert on every risk behavior or situation.
  • Fear of not having enough time. Finding practical solutions that minimize impact on time and workflow was at the heart of the development of RAAPS. In less than 5 minutes the 21 RAAPS questions identify the risk behaviors that contribute most to preventable illness and premature death in young people aged 9 to 24. Even in the tightest of workflows, in organizations that run like clockwork, finding a 5-minute window of time for risk screening could save a life!
  • Fear of upsetting parents. We get it, parents may be uncomfortable with the idea of their child being asked about risk factors and behaviors. You can help parents understand the importance by explaining that standardized risk screening is an opportunity to stop an uptick in bullying, prevent a potential suicide, or identify incidences of sexual abuse. Additionally, RAAPS technology provides a suite of resources to use when talking with parents that can help these conversations go a little smoother.

Remember, just by being present and starting the conversation you are helping. If you want to take your skills even further, Possibilities for Change offers Adolescent-Focused Motivational Interviewing workshops to help you better connect with the youth you serve. We’re excited to offer a training with open registration for the first time—taking place on June 3rd in Ann Arbor, MI! This in-person workshop will help you to learn and translate new MI knowledge into effective practice through a dynamic and engaging experience. Only 20 spaces available, so register today!

To D.I.Y. or not to D.I.Y….

We are long past the days when “Do It Yourself” or “DIY” described college students creating projects on a dime.  These days DIY is mainstream.  On a whole, the DIY philosophy is laudable.  It represents problem solving, independence, thrift, and creativity.   However, there are times when DIY should be “DDIY” (Don’t Do It Yourself!)

Adolescent risk assessment is just such a case – whether it’s developing a screening tool completely from scratch – or creating an assessment that has just the “right” risk questions from existing screeners.  There are actually a LOT of evidence-based, scientific reasons why adolescent risk screeners should not be a homegrown DIY.

Here are just 3 of the top reasons why Adolescent Risk Screening is a DIY Don’t:

  1. Risk assessment is about much more than just the questions. Many organizations who have created in-house screeners focus extensively on the questions to be included in the assessment. In youth risk reduction, questions are only the beginning. In fact – in the CDC framework for risk assessment development, only two of the ten recommendations (20%) focus on the questions themselves.
  2. Tailoring is critical. From an assessment that is tailored to literacy, culture and age – to the delivery of tailored, action-oriented, information – the CDC framework emphasizes the importance of tailoring in efficacy of risk identification and reduction.
  3. A risk screener must be evaluated for validity and reliability. In order for an assessment to be considered valid it must meet content, construct and criterion-related validity.  In addition – it should be reliable (give the same results, with the same types of people, consistently).

To learn more about the differences between DIY tools and a validated, standardized assessment (and why those differences really matter), please check out our newest resource:

The Science of Youth Risk Assessment

DOWNLOAD NOW

Talking Sex with Teens: Community Health Centers ACT for Change

Today’s adolescents are engaging in risky sexual behaviors at earlier ages than ever before, resulting in nearly 250,000 teen births in 2014 and nearly 10 million new sexually transmitted infections annually. Sexually transmitted infections are a significant public health problem in the United States and of particular concern in the adolescent and young adult population. A big factor contributing to the spike is that often times, teens are reluctant to discuss their sexual health with their care team since information about sexual health related behaviors and risk factors has the potential to appear in care summaries, patient portals, insurance explanation of benefits and the like—all which adolescent and young adult patients worry can be viewed by parents and guardians. The lack of communication results in an increased risk for undiagnosed and untreated STIs, missed opportunities for behavioral health interventions, including guidance on managing risk and addressing social determinants of health, and increased disease burden in the community.

In order to improve sexual health screening and behavioral counseling in primary care, Possibilities for Change teamed up with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), the Health Center Network of New York (HCNNY), and four participating health centers across New Jersey and New York for a pilot project using the ACT Sexual Health System.

With today’s earlier onset of sexual activity comes an increased incidence of high-risk behaviors such as:

  • Early sexual intercourse (before the age of 13 years)
  • Multiple sexual partners (history of 4 or more lifetime partners)
  • Inconsistent condom and contraceptive use
  • Drug or alcohol use prior to sex

Research suggests that several key factors have a significant influence on sexual decision-making including: substance use prior to sex, depression and low self-esteem, homelessness, school failure, sexting, and history of abuse and dating violence. Our nation’s public health institutions have recognized the need to improve adolescent health care in the United States and are calling attention to this important issue. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Research Council, Pediatric Health 2011 Report concluded that “improving health outcomes for adolescents is essential to achieving a healthy future for the nation.”

In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that reported one-third of all adolescent health maintenance exams were completed without any discussion of sexual health. For those providers who did introduce the subject, an average of 36 seconds was spent discussing sexual health. It was concluded that strategies need to be utilized to engage adolescents in open discussions around sexuality, promoting healthy sexual development and decision-making:

  • Prioritize adolescent sexual health and ensure that all adolescents are screened and counseled on their risk behaviors using standardized, validated tools – according to nationally-recognized guidelines;
  • Become educated and aware of the inter-relationship between adolescent sexual health, high risk behaviors, and other population disparities;
  • Participate in continuing education on effective adolescent counseling strategies that will actively engage youth in the behavior change process (such as Motivational Interviewing);
  • Develop policies and processes to ensure adolescent engagement and comfort with disclosure of sexual feelings, behaviors and experiences; and
  • Address necessary workflow modifications to ensure risk screening and behavioral counseling is consistently incorporated.

To learn more about the disparities and behaviors that contribute most to sexual risk and how primary care practices and school-based health centers can meet the needs of adolescents to positively impact their sexual health, download and view the recorded webinar.

How do you talk to adolescents about safe sex decisions? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Spotlight: RAAPS 2.0!

Happy New Year! At Possibilities for Change, we couldn’t be more thrilled about all the exciting developments 2016 has in store! For our first blog post of the new year we’d like to share with you the new and improved RAAPS 2.0. In the spirit of continual improvement, we have been pouring over user feedback. Taking what we learned from your suggestions we have developed and implemented new features that will help to tailor the 2.0 system to your clients’ individual needs. Over the next few months we will unpack these new features for you to better showcase their benefit to the RAAPS system and, ultimately, you!

The first of these new features we’d like to shine our spotlight on is our new counselor interface with tailored dashboard. This interface will provide counselors with a comprehensive view of the risk behaviors of the adolescents’ they see. The dashboard comes complete with an overview of previous and current risk behavior responses from individual teens, messages tailored to support your counseling on the specific, identified risk behaviors, and a section to log behavior change goals discussed as part of your risk reduction counseling.

So, why is this important?

Well, at Possibilities for Change we recognize health and wellness professionals have heavy caseloads. We also recognize that each individual adolescent is unique. Our new counselor interface with tailored dashboard promotes efficiency and quality, individualized care. Counselors now have one location where they can view and log all relevant risk behavior information for specific clients as well as access evidence-based information and messages customized to suit their clients’ needs.

We could talk for hours about all of the new benefits we’ve built into RAAPS 2.0 but we’d rather you check out the improvements for yourself – after all, your feedback fueled the change!

If you’d like to check out RAAPS 2.0, now is the perfect time! Please contact us to set up a demo. We can’t wait to walk you through the new system and its user friendly features.