ⓘ Adolescent health, or youth health, is the range of approaches to preventing, detecting or treating young people’s health and well being. The term adolescent an ..


ⓘ Adolescent health

Adolescent health, or youth health, is the range of approaches to preventing, detecting or treating young people’s health and well being.

The term adolescent and young people are often used interchangeably, as are the terms Adolescent Health and Youth Health. Young peoples health is often complex and requires a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach.


1. Key adolescent health risks

Some young people engage in risky behaviours that affect their health and therefore the majority of health problems are psychosocial. Many young people experience multiple problems. These behaviours are established as a young person and go on to become the lifestyles of adults leading to chronic health problems. Social, cultural and environmental factors are all important. Young people have specific health problems and developmental needs that differ from those of children or adults: The causes of ill-health in adolescents are mostly psychosocial rather than biological. Young people often engage in health risk behaviours that reflect the processes of adolescent development: experimentation and exploration, including using drugs and alcohol, sexual behaviour, and other risk taking that affect their physical and mental health. Adolescent health also encompasses childrens and young peoples sexual and reproductive health SRH.

The World Health Organisation describes the leading health-related problems in the age group 10 – 19 years to include:

  • Malnutrition and obesity
  • HIV
  • Injuries both unintentional and self-injury
  • Rights of adolescents
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Violence
  • Exercise and Nutrition
  • Other infectious diseases
  • Mental health problems including depression and suicide
  • Sexual health / Infectious diseases
  • Early pregnancy and childbirth
  • Tobacco use

Young people often lack awareness of the harm associated with risk behaviours, and the skills to protect themselves as well as the lack knowledge about how and where to seek help for their health concerns. By intervening at this early life stage, many chronic conditions later in life can be prevented.


2. Key principles in adolescent health

Evidence-based practices include harm reduction and health promotion to intervene early in the life course and illness trajectory. Youth health is founded on collaborative approaches that address social justice. Youth development approaches include youth empowerment and youth participation. Their aim is to promote youth rights, youth voice and youth engagement.


3. Access to quality health-care services for adolescents

Studies about young peoples access to healthcare have identified major barriers including concerns about confidentiality, practitioners attitudes and communication style, environment, availability of services, cost and the developmental characteristics of young people. Marginalised young people can have greater difficulty accessing health services and need support to navigate the health system.

The World Health Organisation Global standards for quality health-care services for adolescents include:

  • Adolescents’ participation
  • Standard Data and quality improvement
  • Adolescents’ health literacy
  • Providers’ competencies
  • Facility characteristics
  • Community support
  • Equity and non-discrimination
  • Appropriate package of services

4. Key health services for young people

Youth Health includes adolescent medicine as a speciality, along with other primary and tertiary care services. Health services for young people include mental health services, child protection, drug and alcohol services, sexual health services. General Practitioners work alongside multidisciplinary health practitioners including psychology, social Work and Youth health nursing and school health services. Youth work and youth development services support and engage young people. Web based supports, such as Reach Out!, provide early intervention.

Youth health services one-stop-shops for young people are specialist services providing multi-disciplinary, primary health care to young people. Focusing on engaging disadvantaged young people, they deliver flexible and unique services to young people in relaxed and comfortable youth-friendly environments. Youth health services work in partnership with other government and non-government services. Youth health services provide a range of entry-points and non-threatening services, which encourage young people to connect with the service on their own terms. They also provide informal links to other support services and sectors including education, housing, financial support and legal services, offering support to young people who are dealing with complex issues. Youth health services understand the need to respond immediately to young people’s requests for support and assistance and they share a common operating philosophy, which values social justice, equity, and a holistic view of young people’s health and well being.

Capacity building organisations support the Youth Health sector by providing access to information and resources, conducting research and providing training.


5. Adolescent Health Organisations

  • International Alliance for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Schools
  • SpunOut.ie Irish National Youth Website
  • Youth Advolution for Health Singapore
  • International Association for Adolescent Health
  • WHO Adolescent Health
  • Canadian Association for Adolescent Health
  • New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development
  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK
  • Australian Association for Adolescent Health
  • International Childhood and Youth Research Network ICYRNet
  • The York Centre for Children, Youth, and Families

The Egyptian Society for Adolescent Medicine The Arab Coalition for Adolescent Medicine

  • The Journal of Adolescent Health is a peer - reviewed medical journal covering adolescent health and medicine, including biological, psychological, and
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health CAMH is a quarterly peer - reviewed medical journal published by Wiley - Blackwell in Britain on behalf of the Association
  • Adolescent medicine is a medical subspecialty that focuses on care of patients who are in the adolescent period of development. This period begins at puberty
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS is the name for NHS - provided services in the United Kingdom for children, generally until school - leaving
  • Canadian Association for Adolescent Health also known in French as l Association Canadienne pour la Sante des Adolescents is a multidisciplinary, non - profit
  • National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health also known as Add Health is a multiwave longitudinal study of adolescents in the United States. It
  • The Journal of Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health is a quarterly peer - reviewed medical journal covering child psychiatry. It is
  • Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care is a monthly peer - reviewed medical review journal covering pediatric and adolescent medicine. It was established
  • Adolescent sexuality is a stage of human development in which adolescents experience and explore sexual feelings. Interest in sexuality intensifies during