Adolescence is a period of extraordinary physical development. Additionally, social and emotional growth occur at different rates for every person – sometimes leading to confusion and miscommunication between friends or siblings.
Adolescents require avenues to pose age-appropriate questions and must have enough time with their physician to discuss these matters, without their parents present. To best serve adolescents’ needs in this regard, appointments should often take place without parents present.
Adolescence is a time of physical growth and development
Adolescence is a time of rapid physical development and growth, beginning with puberty. These changes affect how adolescents feel, think and make decisions; their relationships with others; and can result in risky behaviors.
At this age, the brain continues to develop and mature in areas related to emotions and social judgment, leading to an expanded sense of self among youth as they question institutions such as schools, work, health care services, justice systems etc. Unfortunately, this stage can often be an uncomfortable journey.
Adolescents may delay or forgo seeking mental health services due to factors like lack of insurance or difficulty accessing services, stigma and discrimination fears, or unwillingness to share symptoms with parents and adults for fear of stigma and discrimination. Delays or missed treatments could exacerbate existing mental health conditions and worsen conditions further.
Adolescents require an integrated healthcare approach that addresses both their behavioral and physical well-being, so a number of health care providers, child health quality experts, and state officials are investigating ways to establish such holistic adolescent care opportunities. Blended funding models, care coordination mechanisms, and uniform cross-silo standards of care may all be helpful approaches in meeting this challenge.
Adolescence is a time of mental growth and development
Adolescence is an age of rapid mental and physical growth and development. These developmental processes can be extremely taxing on young people and their families. Adolescents may create patterns of behavior that promote health and safety or establish harmful ones which put them at risk in later years. Furthermore, adolescents often exhibit strong drive for novelty and reward that make them susceptible to addiction and risk-taking behavior.
Adolescent brains are currently experiencing some of the most dramatic biological changes since infancy, including rapid prefrontal cortex development which may not reach full functionality until late teens, leading to impulsive decisions and poor judgment in social settings. Adolescents can also be vulnerable to peer pressure which may lead them into harmful relationships.
As adolescents develop, they learn to think more abstractly and to develop morals and values that will guide their lives. Furthermore, they gain greater insight into the world around them and how best to interact with it; an integral step in lifelong mental health and cognitive development. Therefore, access to comprehensive care – including mental, behavioral, physical health services provided either directly by schools or referred from community-based health service providers – becomes crucial.
Adolescence is a time of sexual development
Adolescence is a crucial stage of life during which significant biological and psychological transformation occurs, including significant sexuality-related developments. Sexual development plays an essential part in the biopsychosocial framework that influences one’s thought processes, perceptions and responses – thus underscoring why adolescent health holds crucial clinical, legal, social and cultural ramifications as well as educational implications.
Adolescents frequently engage in sexual behavior that varies widely and is generally harmless, yet adolescents can engage in potentially risky activities that increase the likelihood of sexually transmitted infections (STIs and HIV), blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis or other blood diseases and domestic violence as well as domestic exploitation and reduced abilities to recognize symptoms, inform partners or obtain medical treatment.
An health care provider who is open and respectful in discussing adolescent sexuality can assist them in making healthy choices regarding both their physical and sexual wellbeing. For instance, this provider could ask about kissing and touching experiences, oral sex use and any drugs or devices taken to enhance sexual pleasure – this information allows the provider to provide tailored resiliency-based anticipatory guidance relevant to each adolescent’s goals, strengths and needs.
Adolescent-friendly care models comprise comprehensive medical, dental, eye, behavioral and reproductive services in an open and welcoming environment for adolescents. Such an approach plays an essential role in public health strategies designed to address the many health concerns faced by teens today.
Adolescence is a time of social development
Adolescence is an age of rapid social development for young people. They begin to separate from their parents and discover who they are as individuals, developing closer ties with friends and peers in turn. Furthermore, family dynamics may shift dramatically including conflicts with both sets of parents. Furthermore, adolescents frequently have concerns regarding sexual and reproductive health care needs which makes adolescent health care essential.
Adolescents are more likely to seek care when they feel at ease discussing sensitive matters with their providers. Adolescents want assurances of privacy protection and an environment which feels safe. One way of providing such support would be educating adolescents on developing healthy relationships with their provider.
Adolescent healthcare services can also assist young adults with chronic medical needs to navigate a complex healthcare system, from managing multiple doctors’ offices and relationships with new healthcare professionals, to receiving emotional and physical wellness support services. Adolescent healthcare can also play a crucial role for young people living in high-risk situations like violence at home or substance abuse.
Healthcare organizations seeking to meet the special needs of adolescents should utilize value-based purchasing (VBP) strategies. These initiatives offer financial incentives that encourage providers to adopt more holistic approaches that address behavioral, mental and social needs of adolescents.