Since 2015, the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) has been proud to spearhead National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, an annual observance each May that began more than twenty years ago with a day of action led by advocates to highlight our collective responsibility to address the high rates of unintended pregnancy among teens. Our nation has made significant progress over the last two decades, and young people themselves have led the way, helping redefine for us all how we can and should support adolescent health and wellbeing during this critical phase of life. In recognition of our renewed and expanded commitment, we are proud to announce that the May observance has been renamed National Adolescent Health Month, or NAHM.
We believe words matter, and renaming the observance is rooted in four primary realities. First, we want to reflect the adolescent health field’s shift in focus away from stigmatizing teen pregnancy and young people’s risk behavior. Second, we see this observance as an opportunity to highlight the importance of making investments in adolescent health using an asset-based, positive youth development approach. Third, decades of public health work have led to declines in the prevalence of teen pregnancy and it is critical to broaden the aperture to acknowledge the range of adolescent health needs that merit our national engagement. Finally, OPA grantees, federal colleagues, advocates and other stakeholders in the adolescent health field asked us to change the name and focus of the observance. We listened!
OPA went through a rigorous process to solicit input and feedback from HHS staff and external partners, including interviews with HHS staff and a survey of OPA grantees, various federal agency staff, State Adolescent Health Coordinators, youth-serving professionals, adolescent healthcare providers, public health groups, advocates, parents, and youth. Ultimately, the process led us to the new name and four weekly themes for this year’s observance:
- Week 1: Empower youth with sexual and reproductive health information and services
- Week 2: Support mental health and well being
- Week 3: Encourage physical health and healthy decision-making
- Week 4: Sustain equitable, accessible, youth-friendly services
We introduced the new observance last week and will be celebrating throughout the month of May. Our dedicated NAHM webpages features information about a selection of OPA Title X family planning and Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) grantees, shareable sample tweets, social media graphics, and e-newsletter and blog text with key facts about OPA grantees’ work to promote adolescent health. It also includes links to resources from the Reproductive Health National Training Center and to videos on the OPA YouTube channel. Each week we’ll post additional resources that related to the weekly theme and highlight the work of our grantees and federal partners.
Stay tuned in the second half of May for two Twitter Takeover days, when young people from two of OPA’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs will take over the OPA Twitter feed with their posts. We hope you’ll retweet them and amplify youth voices speaking about adolescent health. And throughout the month TPP grantee youth will send us original artwork, poetry, music, photography and essays that we’ll post on the OPA website later this year as part of Youth Create! 2022. You can see a video compilation of last year’s Youth Create! activity here.
I invite you to join me in getting involved in NAHM 2022 – here’s how you can participate:
- Visit the webpage to find resources and learn about our featured OPA grantees
- Download, customize, and share our sample social media graphics and posts
- Retweet and Quote tweet OPA using #NationalAdolescentHealthMonth and #HealthyYouthNAHM
- Amplify youth voice by retweeting grantee youth on OPA’s Twitter Takeover Days
- Tell us about your NAHM activities and posts
Learn more on the OPA National Adolescent Health Month webpage.