This week, we celebrate National Public Health Week! Here at Teen Health Mississippi, we are dedicated to ensuring youth and young adults (YYA) have the resources they need to make decisions for their health and well-being. This National Public Health Week, we want to empower you, the trusted adults in their lives, to be champions alongside YYA for their well-being.

The theme for 2024, “Protecting, Connecting, and Thriving: We Are All Public Health,” highlights the importance of building healthy communities. YYA are a vital part of that community, and their well-being is paramount.

So, how can you empower the youth and young adults in your life?

1. Open Communication is Key:

Create a safe space for open and honest conversations about sex, relationships, mental health, and healthcare. This doesn’t have to be one big talk—small, regular conversations are best.  We understand that conversations surrounding a young person’s health and well-being (including sexual and mental health) can be hard, but we’re here to help. Check out our How to Have the Talk training and other resources and information to facilitate these conversations. 

2. Normalize Talking About Mental Health:

Mental health struggles are common, just like physical health concerns. Know the signs of mental health challenges in a young person and how to help them. Let them know it’s okay to ask for support. Staff at THMS are trained to facilitate Youth Mental Health First Aid (adults to youth), Adult Mental Health First Aid (adult to adult), and Teen Mental Health First Aid (teen to teen). Keep up with our training schedule here or sign up for our newsletter for more information about our Mental Health First Aid trainings and related resources and information. Request a training at this link. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: are also helpful.

3. Respect Bodily Autonomy:

Support YYA’s right to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Talk about consent, healthy relationships, and different birth control methods. Let them know there’s no shame in seeking confidential sexual healthcare from a trusted provider. Check out THMS’ Community Resource and Services Finder to find healthcare in your county, and share Choose Your Method, our contraceptive options tool, with your young person. Go here for information about our Trusted Adults trainings.

4. Partner With Youth in Advocating for Youth Health and Well-Being

YYA’s health and well-being are deeply intertwined with the support systems around them. Trusted adults like parents, teachers, counselors, and other community members play a crucial role in creating a safe space for open communication about their sexual health, relationships, and mental health. YYA also hold immense power. When young people and trusted adults work together to advocate for comprehensive sexual health education, accessible mental health services, and inclusive and youth-friendly healthcare policies, they create brighter futures for all. After all, healthy youth and young adults lead to whole communities. Learn about THMS’ youth movements, including the Mississippi Youth Council (MYCouncil) and Mobilizing Youth Summit (MYSummit). Sign up for our newsletter for information about the 2024 MYSummit. Also keep an eye out for Sex Ed for All Month in May!THMS is here to support you! Visit our website for resources, toolkits, and other information. Together, we can improve the lives of YYA and their communities.

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