DASH Partner Update – May 2022
May is a busy month of observances promoting awareness of issues we all deeply care about, including Mental Health Awareness Month, National Adolescent Health Month, and Sex Ed for All Month. Although each center around a different topic, they all have one thing in common – an interest in improving adolescent health.
In DASH, we know that strong data is foundational to advancing the health and well-being of adolescents. Data highlights the behaviors and experiences of young people, allows us to assess the most pressing challenges youth are facing, and informs our approaches to mitigate these challenges effectively to ensure our nation’s youth can thrive. CDC data collected during the pandemic have confirmed the severity of the mental health crisis among adolescents and the adversity that LGBTQ youth and youth of color have been disproportionately experiencing. Right now, youth need support from every corner of society – from parents, teachers, and communities to state and federal entities. And to support youth successfully, we need data to help tell the story of how they’re faring following extreme disruption and trauma.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is one essential tool for telling the story at national, state, and local levels. YRBS data is used to inform, develop, and evaluate. In Montana for instance, YRBS data was used to help implement a policy addressing bullying in schools. In Connecticut, YRBS data was critical in requiring professional development for school staff to include bullying and school climate, suicide prevention, and teen dating violence. And in Washington DC, YRBS has become required as an essential tool to collect data on LGBTQ youth in schools.
These and countless other examples demonstrate the power of data. Data saves lives. And because saving lives is central to CDC’s mission, we remain dedicated to ensuring that quality data continues to be collected to drive decision making. Please join us in promoting each of these observances throughout the month and lifting up the importance of data in improving the health of young people.
Kathleen A. Ethier, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What's New at CDC?
- New Success Stories
DASH recently published four new success stories highlighting important work in funded local education agencies. The stories feature New York City Department of Education’s success in training staff to connect youth to sexual health services, San Diego Unified School District’s success in training staff around mental health, DC Public Schools’ success in fostering connectedness for LGBTQ+ youth, and Oakland Unified School District’s success in adapting their sexual health education program for online learning. These stories and others can be found on DASH’s success stories webpage.
- Highlighting Youth Voices on Twitter
Follow @CDC_DASH on Twitter in May as we promote Mental Health Month. Tweets will feature youth voices providing insight on what adolescents need to maintain good mental health. Youth leader, Ash Silcott, kicks of the series with advice about connecting with others.
- Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Findings
CDC released data and an MMWR Supplement in March on the magnitude of challenges youth faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. A summary of critical findings, in addition to the complete results can be found on DASH’s website.
- Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) Online Fact Sheets
These instructional fact sheets provide detailed information about using HECAT Online. Fact sheets include an overview and rationale and using HECAT Online to perform curriculum analyses or develop a health education scope and sequence.
- Increases in Student Knowledge and Protective Behaviors Following Enhanced Supports for Sexual Health Education in a Large, Urban School Districtexternal icon
- Addressing HIV/STD and Pregnancy Prevention Through Schools: An Approach for Strengthening Education, Health Services, and School Environments That Promote Adolescent Sexual Health and Well-Beingexternal icon
- Overwhelming Support for Sexual Health Education in U.S. Schools: A Meta-Analysis of 23 surveys Conducted Between 2000 and 2016external icon
- Association Between LGBTQ Student Nondiscrimination Laws in Selected States and School District Support for Gay-Straight Alliancesexternal icon
- Trends in Teaching Sexual and Reproductive Health Skills in US Secondary Schools in 35 states, 2008 to 2018external icon
This new CDC study uses School Health Profiles data to examine state-level trends in the percentage of US secondary schools teaching sexual and reproductive health skills in a required course in grades 6-8 and 9-12.
- Annual STI Testing Among Sexually Active Adolescentsexternal icon
This study uses 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey data to provide national prevalence estimates of annual STI testing among sexually active high school students. The study finds that one-fifth of sexually active high school students reported testing for an STI in the previous year.
- The CDC’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey – Using Intersectionality and School Connectedness to Understand Health Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemicexternal icon
A CDC commentary highlights the importance of using intersectionality and explores school connectedness among adolescents using an intersectional perspective. Among all students, less than half felt connected to others at school during the pandemic. School connectedness was lowest among Black sexual minority youth (25%) and Black female sexual minority youth (22%).
July 21-25: Several DASH staff will present at the American School Health Association (ASHA) 96th Annual Conferenceexternal icon. Presentations include:
- A step-by-step guide for using CDC’s HECAT Online to analyze mental health education curriculum
- Implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies among a nationally representative sample of K-12 public schools: CDC’s National School COVID-19 Prevention Study
- School Health Research: 2022 Updates from CDC
Updates from Partners
- National Adolescent Health Month
The HHS Office of Population Affairs’ (OPA) annual May observance is now called National Adolescent Health Month (NAHM). In 2022 and going forward, the observance will emphasize the importance of building on young people’s strengths and potential, encouraging and supporting meaningful youth engagement in adolescent health activities, and highlighting key topics in adolescent health. This year’s themes and resources for promotion can be found on OPA’s websiteexternal icon.
- Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month Toolkit
The theme of MHA’s 2022 Mental Health Month Toolkitexternal icon is “Back to Basics.” The toolkit aims to provide foundational knowledge about mental health and mental health conditions and information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.
- Trevor Project 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health
The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth from across the country demonstrates that suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ young people over the last three years. This research also highlights several ways in which we can all support LGBTQ youth and help prevent suicide. Explore the full results on their websiteexternal icon.
- American School Counselor Association Resources to Support Transgender Students
ASCA provides model policies, websites, and moreexternal icon to help support transgender students in schools and school districts.
- HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools
Welcoming Schoolsexternal icon is a comprehensive bullying prevention program to provide LGBTQ+ and gender-inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals.
In the Field
The New York City Department of Education adapted their full-day in-person Condom Availability Program (CAP) training to a virtual training series, increasing the number of staff in New York City public high schools who could attend and gain the knowledge and skills needed to connect students to sexual health services. Read more on DASH’s website.
- May 1-31: Mental Health Awareness Month, National Adolescent Health Month, and Sex Ed for All Month
- May 19: National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
- June 1-30: LGBTQ Pride Month
- June 27: National HIV Testing Day