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Adolescence and the Social Determinants of Health

What essential elements should be included in a health teaching plan addressing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual challenges in adolescents?

Today, adolescents face a number of health risks that could impact their further life. However, most of these health risks are preventable. Therefore, comprehensive health education could help to lower the incidence of health issues in adolescents, allowing young people to stay healthy in the future.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2017), there are several key health concerns in adolescents, including early pregnancy and childbirth, drug use, mental disorders, and obesity. Risky behaviors leading to these health problems are usually caused by the youths’ environment. For instance, negative peer pressure can increase the risk of developing substance abuse, whereas lack of access to contraception might lead to the risk of adolescent pregnancy. A comprehensive health education plan for adolescents should equip them with knowledge and skills to minimize the effect of the community on their behavior. For example, educating adolescents on nutrition and exercise could help them to avoid developing unhealthy eating behaviors evident in their families.

The education plan should, therefore, incorporate four main topics: sexual health, nutrition and exercise, drug and substance abuse, and mental health. Sexual health education should incorporate topics such as HIV and STD prevention, contraception, and seeking sexual health aid.

Nutrition and exercise education should provide information on healthy meals and moderate exercise plans. Education on drug and substance abuse should teach adolescents to avoid negative peer pressure and prevent drug use. Finally, mental health education should offer an overview of conditions and ways to obtain professional help. A comprehensive health plan addressing all of the above topics would help to prevent risky behaviors and unwanted health consequences in adolescents, thus improving the overall health of this generation.

Discuss factors that contribute to risk-taking behaviors and situations during adolescence. What impact might stress play on this age group? Do you see any connection between stress and common adolescent risk factors?

There is a variety of risk factors that contribute to risk-taking behaviors in adolescents. Unsafe sex practices, drug and substance use, and unhealthy coping strategies can be examples of risk-taking behavior evident in youths. Addressing these factors could help to lower the risk of dangerous behaviors in adolescents, thus preventing health consequences.

According to Viner et al. (2012), adolescents are especially sensitive to social factors leading to risky behaviors. These factors include national wealth, access to formal education, and income inequality (Viner et al., 2012). Moreover, stress is another factor that contributes to risky behaviors in adolescents. According to Anderson et al. (2013), Millennials report high stress levels (5.4 comparing to a healthy level of 4.0). This leads to sleep disturbance, irritability, and anger (Anderson et al., 2013).

Stress could contribute to risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, as it might impair their ability to maintain positive relationships with others and lead a healthy lifestyle. For instance, irritability and anger could affect adolescents’ relationship with parents, thus prompting them to search for support from peers, who might be a source of negative influence. Moreover, if their stress management skills are low, adolescents might turn to drinking or drug abuse as a way to relieve stress. Long-term stress could also lead to burnout, provoking depressive thoughts and symptoms.

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Overall, the adolescent risk-taking behavior is influenced by several different factors. Stress can contribute to risk-taking behaviors and impair adolescent health, whereas the absence of sufficient stress management techniques could lead to the development of negative coping strategies, such as drug and substance abuse. Education on stress management is thus crucial to lowering the prevalence of risk-taking behaviors among adolescents.


Anderson, N. B., Belar, C. D., Breckler, S.J., Nordal, K. C., Ballard, D. W., Bufka, L. F., … Kelley, K. (2013). Stress in America: Missing the health care connection. Web.

Viner, R. M., Ozer, E. M., Denny, S., Marmot, M., Resnick, M., Fatusi, A., & Currie, C. (2012). Adolescence and the social determinants of health. The Lancet, 379(9826), 1641-1652.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2017). Adolescents: Health risks and solutions. WHO. Web.

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