FRAMING THE CALL TO ACTION
Take Action for Adolescents ‒ A Call to Action for Adolescent Health and Development (Take Action for Adolescents or “the Call to Action”) advances the vision that all adolescents in the United States (U.S.) should have the safety, support, and resources to thrive, be healthy, and have equitable opportunity to realize their full potential. Achieving the breadth and scope of this vision requires intentional collaboration and coordination across all levels of society. Federal, state, tribal, local, and territorial governments and policy makers, in concert with young people, parents, legal representatives, caregivers, health care and human service providers and organizations, researchers, youth-serving professionals and organizations, and the private sector must work together to create systems that empower young people to make decisions related to their health and well-being and obtain the services and support they need.
The action steps outlined in this call to action are also informed by the following key principles, which were developed in collaboration with adolescent health experts and young people (see Section 3 for more information):
- Access: Access is the ability to connect with and use health and human services in a timely manner to achieve better health outcomes. Access to the full spectrum of health and human services is a key component of creating a strong, integrated system that promotes adolescent health and well-being. Ensuring full access includes reducing or eliminating financial and structural barriers to needed services. All people, including adolescents, deserve access to high-quality health care and human services. These services include physical and mental and behavioral health care.
- Agency: Agency addresses the ability of young people to employ their assets and aspirations to make or influence decisions about their lives and set their own goals, as well as to act upon those decisions to achieve desired outcomes. Supporting youth agency empowers young people to take meaningful action and make changes in their own lives, their communities, and the wider world.
- Health Equity: Health equity is a state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health and well-being. Health is a fundamental human right, and individuals’ health and well-being are impacted by external social determinants of health including their environment, transportation, housing, education, and more. These social determinants may include discriminatory policies, practices, and prejudice based on a range of factors including, but not limited to, age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, sex characteristics, disability status, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and immigration status. Achieving health equity requires continuous, concentrated effort to address structural barriers to health and well-being; historical and current inequities and injustices; and individual bias and discrimination.
What is Take Action for Adolescents?
This Call to Action articulates the vision and key principles and outlines the goals that, if achieved, will help address adolescents’ diverse health and well-being needs. The action steps are designed to be adapted and customized as needed by policy makers; health care and human service providers and organizations; youth-serving professionals and organizations; parents, legal representatives, and caregivers; and researchers that work with and support young people.
While designed to specifically promote young people’s health and well-being, the plan also acknowledges the intersecting and multifaceted aspects of adolescent life. Young people’s development is interconnected with their environment. Some young people lack access to basic levels of safety, security, and support to thrive and must navigate environments that pose challenges, such as exposure to violence, abuse and neglect, food insecurity, lack of access to healthy activities, unsafe schools and communities, and climate change. These types of environmental challenges can compound and exacerbate issues related to mental health and well-being, substance use, sexual and reproductive wellness, and overall physical health.
Who Is Take Action for Adolescents For?
This Call to Action is designed to motivate, energize, and inspire anyone—policy makers, health care and human service providers and organizations, youth-serving professionals and organizations, parents, legal representatives, caregivers, researchers—who has a role in providing adolescents with the safety, support, and resources they need to thrive, be healthy, and have equitable opportunity to realize their full potential. It does not aim to address every challenge facing adolescents. Rather, Take Action for Adolescents is designed to galvanize individuals, caring adults, professionals, organizations, and governments working to support young people in service of a shared vision to tailor, collaborate, and coordinate on proposed action steps to their specific community and system needs.