The Academy Health, in partnership with ACT for Health and with support from Well Being Trust, developed the report Advancing Teen Flourishing: Moving Policy Upstream outlining policy priorities from experts in the field for enhancing the psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing of America’s teens.

The well-being of children is an overarching societal goal. Teens ages 13 through 18 comprise 25 million Americans, or 2 out of 5 children. As adolescents, teens live through a critical developmental period, during which their circumstances, brains and bodies are undergoing multiple changes. Many of today’s teens are not flourishing to the extent they could be psychologically, socially, or emotionally. Further, evidence is growing that thriving teens would be able to contribute to the well-being of their families, communities, and the nation.

This report identifies promising findings and policy recommendations to guide the development, implementation, and testing of strategies to promote positive mental health and prevent psychological distress for our teens. Advancing Adolescent Flourishing: Moving Policy Upstream’s recommendations include:

• Developing a vision that considers young people as a resource, not a problem by adopting principles of respect for teens and including them in policymaking that concerns them.
• Incorporating trauma-informed and healing-centered models in child welfare, juvenile justice and violence prevention programs.
• Providing parents and families of teens with access to adequate material resources – such as supplemental income, food, shelter, or money for education or extracurricular activities.
• Supporting state and local education agencies to shift their focus from academic achievement alone to an equal and integrated focus on teens’ psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing.
• Holding social media companies, influencers and advertisers accountable for protecting teens from harmful contact and engaging with researchers, teens, and community stakeholders to produce more content that supports teen wellbeing.
• Bringing more attention and resources to teen well-being by declaring and acting on a “Decade of Adolescent Flourishing.”

To access the full report, click here.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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