This has been a good, busy, and at times challenging year for Teen Health Mississippi (THMS). Mississippi has had a year with tough moments, including the state legislature passing a law to take out the expiration date on the current sex ed law to the tornadoes in Rolling Fork and Silver City that affected communities we serve in the Delta. Even so, we pushed forward in our work to connect more youth and their communities to a variety of supports, ranging from mental and sexual health support to financial support.
By A’Davion Bush, Youth Partner
Our personal lives are affected by the quality of relationships we have with our partners, family, and close friends. This is why we often look to other people for relationship advice. This is especially true for younger people who are looking for healthy relationships and advice on modern dating.
By Triuna Taylor
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is a timeless act that enhances the natural connection that occurs between mothers/birthing people and babies. It is a unique experience that creates a strong bond between a person and their child. During Breastfeeding Awareness Month, join us as we delve into the wonders of breastfeeding/chestfeeding.
During the 2023 legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers passed a bill that takes the expiration date off the state’s current sex ed law.
The law, originally passed as House Bill 999 in 2011, says that public school districts in Mississippi are required to implement sex education. The law requires each public school district in the state to choose between an “abstinence-only” or “abstinence-plus” sex ed policy and a corresponding sex ed curriculum approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. The law has been reauthorized twice since originally passing (during the 2016 and 2021 legislative sessions).
Ever since the birth control pill first came onto the market in the 1970s, women and girls have had to get a prescription from their doctor. For those in under-resourced and underfunded communities, this can present a challenge. Women in those areas are less likely to have access to effective birth control methods than those in other communities, and Mississippi has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S.
However, a drug approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will make accessing contraception easier. In July 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opill, an over-the-counter method of birth control that will soon be sold online and in stores.
On June 8-11, 2023, young people from across Mississippi and the southeast US will gather in Raymond, MS to build skills to help them lead change in their communities.
Hosted by Teen Health Mississippi and our partners, the Mobilizing Youth Summit (MYSummit) provides young people with an opportunity to increase awareness around issues affecting youth in their communities. Young people will collaborate with other youth advocates, local and state leaders, entrepreneurs, policy experts, and social activists to identify paths to move Mississippi forward, especially as it relates to advocating for change, organizing, mobilizing efforts, and lobbying policymakers. Attendees will participate in immersive workshops, thought-provoking roundtables, and inspiring keynotes, all while building their network of fellow changemakers who are working toward change in their local communities.
Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) is working with The Policy & Research Group (PRG) to develop a new teen pregnancy prevention program for youth involved in the criminal justice system.
The project aims to use Social Network Theory and motivational interviewing to help youth in the justice system to increase awareness of their social networks and how their networks influence their behavior, specifically when it comes to sexual behaviors.
Teen Health Mississippi is currently working on a prototype that will help participating youth think through their social networks and goals for their future.
“I am excited that we are getting close to being able to put our intervention in front of young people. I think that the fact that we’re looking at them as a whole person and not their offenses will make a great difference,” Teen Health Mississippi Director of Healthcare and Community Engagement Whitney French says. “Hopefully their time in the intervention will give them some positive decision making skills as well as a strong support system to help them reach their goals.”
Learn more about the project at the button below.
For many families in Mississippi, 2021 brought heartaches and a range of physical and emotional challenges. Rural youth are struggling without easy access to resources on health and healthcare, including information on sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and youth-friendly healthcare.
On December 16, 2021, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi announced that the organization has awarded grants totaling $360,000 to 11 Mississippi-based programs, including Teen Health Mississippi (THMS). Teen Health Mississippi will use the funds for the next MYSummit. To learn more and see the press release, click here.
by Advikaa Anand
Sex is an important part of many romantic relationships–intimacy adds a feeling of closeness with your partner. While the average age of initiating sex in the US is 17, there are no hard and fast rules for this. The most important thing is to be frank and honest with your partner about your comfort level.