RELEASE: Teen Health Mississippi Receives $75,000 Grant From Twitter Co-Founder’s #startsmall Initiative

#startsmall, an initiative Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey created as a way to fund global COVID-19 relief, has awarded Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) a $75,000 grant for our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund (ERF).

Teen Health Mississippi started the fund in April 2020 after talking with some of our youth partners and discovering that COVID-19 has negatively impacted them and other young people in Mississippi. We want to support our communities and their young people by connecting them to the resources they may need, including financial resources. To that end, THMS launched the COVID-19 ERF to help youth across the state whom the pandemic has affected negatively. THMS has received 4,000 applications to date and awarded $11,000 to more than 150 youth across the state. 

COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Awards 150 Youth from Across Mississippi

Edit: This release has been updated to reflect current numbers from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) may focus on getting Mississippi youth access and resources for high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare, but we are also community-driven, and right now, our communities need us.

Half of all American children have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. COVID-19 is a form of trauma. People who have experienced trauma are three times more likely to experience depression, and trauma also impacts the decisions young people make about their sexual expression. People who have experienced trauma are four times more likely to develop an STI, may not have used condoms during the last time they had sex and have higher rates of unplanned pregnancy. 

Teen Health Mississippi Creates Emergency Relief Fund Program

Teen Health Mississippi

In light of COVID-19 and the financial problems the pandemic is causing Mississippians, Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) has created an emergency relief program for THMS youth partners and Mississippi teens. 

The Emergency Relief Fund Program was established to support the urgent needs of financially disadvantaged Teen Health Mississippi youth partners and young people ages 13 to 19 from across the state impacted by COVID-19. Funds are intended for young people who demonstrate an immediate need for interim housing, nutritional stipends, baby care items for expectant and parenting teens, transportation, medical care/supplies, and school supplies.

Community Health Centers Offering COVID-19 Testing

On April 17, the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi announced in a press release that 21 community health clinics will offer COVID-19 screening at testing.*

Of the 21 community health center sites offering testing, 18 offer drive-up or curbside services. To use this service, patients need to call ahead to the health center, and once they arrive in the parking lot, they talk to the provider on the phone. The providers will meet the patient at the person’s vehicle to perform the testing, if needed.

Sex is the Opposite of Social Distancing. But Here’s How You Stay Safe.

With Mississippi on lockdown and the stay-at-home orders in place, you’re probably wondering what this means for you and bae. While we recommend minimizing contact with others, we know that you might be tempted to “quarantine and chill.” So we compiled this list of health-related information to help you be smart and play your part with your sexual health and fighting the virus. 

Sex Education Policy: The Effect on Teen Pregnancy & STIs

Pregnancy test and birth control pills

In study after study, scientifically-based and medically-accurate sex education programs have been shown to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But not all programs are created equal. In Mississippi, your school district’s sex education policy determines whether youth learn what they need to make smart decisions about their sexual health.

Life in the Time of COVID-19

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

At this point, many of us (including THMS staff members) are working from home, and times are scary right now. COVID-19 has us like: 

But here’s some good news: This too shall pass!  

In the meantime, many of us are working from home and largely avoiding going out in public. It’s been about two weeks, and I imagine many of us are going stir crazy. We here at Teen Health Mississippi may dedicate ourselves to getting youth access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare, but we are also community-driven, and right now all of our communities need access to information to help us cope with what’s happening. Here are some tips and resources to keep you going during these tough times.

THMS Response to COVID-19

Photo by CDC on

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency for the state of Mississippi regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  We are uncertain of the impact this virus will have on our communities in the long run, but are certain that this pandemic has immediate impacts on the health, economics, and mental and psycho-social well-being of the communities we serve.

Teen Health Mississippi is especially concerned about the safety and well-being of our staff, youth, communities, and partners that we counter across the state of Mississippi and beyond. At the same time, THMS is committed more than ever to our mission of ensuring youth have access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare services.

Title X Gag Rule: What It Means for Mississippi Youth

The Title X Family Planning Program is a federal grant program that provides family planning and preventive healthcare, like breast and cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, birth control, and pregnancy services. In February 2019, the Trump Administration announced a Title X Gag Rule that has concerning implications on the program.