DASH Partner Update – October 2020

Division of Adolescent and School Health: Healthy Youth. Successful Futures.

Dear Partners,

Fall typically brings about references to change and reflection as the year heads toward a close. In 2020, we have been faced with so much, and the need for flexibility and resilience has been paramount throughout the year. Students, parents, and school staff, in particular, continue to adjust to constantly shifting environments. These times have required all of us to move quickly to focus on innovative solutions that will support youth through this COVID-19 pandemic. I know that schools across the nation, along with all of you, will continue to offer support to students, families, and communities. There remain many pressing and urgent needs and we are not yet in a place where we can take our foot off the gas. However, it is important for our actions to not only fit the moment, but the longer-term needs of our nation’s youth that this year has made so apparent.

One of the tools that is critical to current action as well as long-term planning is our Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data. YRBS data helps us monitor youth behaviors and experiences and highlight areas of progress and where there is more work to do. At the end of this month, we will be releasing our 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report, 2009-2019, which focuses on data related to our four priority areas: Sexual Behavior, High Risk Substance Use, Experience of Violence, and Mental Health and Suicide. This report will also serve as a pre-COVID-19 baseline for these risk areas as we plan for long-term recovery.

To help schools move toward the goal of recovery, DASH’s funded local education agencies and NGOs have recently received additional funding to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of students and staff. What we learn from this important local work and from our partners will be a critical tool as we determine how to best support and promote adolescent mental health and wellbeing in schools.


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 With DASH?
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CDC/DASH Updates and Resources
  • Upcoming Release of the 2019 Data Summary & Trends Report. DASH will release its Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report: 2009-2019 (DSTR) pdf icon[PDF – 31 MB] on October 22. This report provides an in-depth look at trends in sexual behavior, high-risk substance use, experiencing violence, and mental health and suicide. It includes overall trends, as well as trends by gender and race/ethnicity, and features a separate section dedicated to examining trends among sexual minority youth.
  • Support Through CARES Funding. DASH is using CARES Act funding to support schools, students, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding DASH is:
    • Leveraging its existing program by providing funds for additional mental health staff in 22 local education agencies to expand resources to address social and emotional wellbeing.
    • Awarding funds to non-governmental organizations to focus on student mental health and parent support in response to prolonged school closures.
    • Updating the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), including surveillance infrastructure and survey administration to ensure quality data collection continues during the pandemic. Ongoing data collected will be critical in understanding how COVID-19 has affected students and families, and what actions schools can take in the future to further mitigate the long-lasting effects of the pandemic.
    • Conducting research projects to better understand and meet the needs of schools, students, and parents.
  • COVID-19 Videos for Schools. CDC posted a wide range of videos related to COVID-19 and schools. Video topics include maintaining healthy operations, maintaining healthy environments, and preparing for when someone gets sick.
  • COVID-19 Resources for Parents. CDC recently released a COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit to support parents, caregivers, and other adults in identifying children and young people’s social, emotional, and mental health challenges and ensuring their well-being. The resources kit has age-specific web pages for children, adolescents, and young adults.
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Updates from Partners
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In the Field
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Y2 Connect Boston is a web-based sexual health resource guide designed to help Boston youth locate and access local youth-friendly sexual health services and trusted, accurate sexual health information. Once COVID-19 pandemic school closures went into effect in March, Y2 Connect was leveraged to communicate clinic updates and health resources, highlight clinics and programs that remained open, and provide instructions for accessing these resources during the pandemic.

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  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month and National Substance Abuse Awareness Month
  • November is is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month
  • November 16-20: American Education Week
  • November 19: National Parent Involvement Day
  • December 1: World AIDS Day