Date: August 6th, 2015
By: Gina Desiderio
Youth are often hesitant or unable to access adequate health services, especially when it comes to reproductive and sexual health. Reasons that youth do not receive care include lack of knowledge about services, inability to go to the clinic during operating hours, poor knowledge about health consequences, concern over privacy, and inability to pay.
Adolescence is a valuable time to teach youth about good health habits, and issues left untreated can have lasting negative effects. Clinic managers and staff can take certain actions to make it easier and more comfortable for youth to receive services. Providing youth-friendly services is a lengthy process that takes dedication from staff at every level of the organization. Taking action to become more youth-friendly is important because it aligns with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) policies regarding full-coverage of contraception, sexually transmitted infection (STI) care, and other preventative services. Health care is a human right and youth may otherwise not receive the services they need to live a healthy life.
Offering youth-friendly services means that clinical services are provided in a way that makes it easy and comfortable for youth to seek out and receive the services they need. Key components of youth-friendly services include confidentiality and access to a full range of services. Another key aspect of youth-friendly services is that all youth are treated equally. Offering youth-friendly services is of great importance because it can increase utilization of clinic services and have positive impacts on current and future well-being.
What are some ways you work to make your services more youth-friendly?
To find out more about the characteristics of youth-friendly services, check out Healthy Teen Network’s Tip Sheet on Youth-Friendly Clinical Services. Also, coming soon, we will share a tool to assess how youth-friendly your services are.
 National Women’s Law Center. (2015). Contraceptive Coverage in the Health Care Law: Frequently Asked Questions. Washington D.C.: National Women’s Law Center.
About the Author
Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.