Foster care has been a frequent topic of discussion lately; there have been heart breaking-stories (like foster families helping ease anxiety of immigrant children placed in foster care while separated from parents), as well as heart-warming stories like the clothing store in Florida who has special shopping hours just for children in foster care. There are many reports available about the health of children while in foster care, but what happens to the teenager who “ages out” of the foster care system?
Teens who are in the foster care system face challenging social stressors after leaving foster care when they turn 18 years old. Every year 24,000 US foster adolescents age out of foster care. The period after leaving foster care can be a rough transition. These teens are at high risk of bouncing from one living situation to another, which is termed “housing instability.” It’s been estimated that more than 35% of them may experience homelessness after leaving foster care. Read more
Transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming (TNG) youth are becoming more visible across the U.S. and the world, and you may have noticed more and more TNG youth, such as Gavin Grimm and Ashton Whitaker, speaking out about their experiences. As you read about these amazing young people, maybe you’ve wondered about the broader day-to-day experiences of TNG youth. Or maybe you’ve read about the higher risk of mental health concerns for TNG youth, but realized that there’s not always a lot of context and information about the other aspects of the lives of these young people.
“I don’t need to be tested for STDs, I only date other girls,” is a statement I hear at least once a week in clinic from an adolescent or young adult female. There are lots of statistics, clinical practice guidelines, and overall medical attention surrounding health consequences of men who have sex with men, but what about these patients? Don’t the ladies deserve some attention?
Think about some of your favorite movies. Were the characters smoking in these movies? Why would I ask such a weird question? Here’s an interesting relationship to ponder: does exposure to smoking in our media lead to increased probability of picking up the habit? The Surgeon General, many researchers, and the leading health organizations say that, for impressionable adolescents, it does.
Every few weeks, I get asked, “What pill can I take to help me lose weight?” Sometimes it’s asked by an overweight teen (or parent), sometimes from someone who is at a healthy weight but wants to be a “little bit smaller.” Many of my eating disorder patients admit to using diet pills. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Center for Disease Control – 5% of teens have used diet pills/powders/liquid in the past month without a doctor’s approval in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Just as often, I am asked about the proper supplement to take to help build more muscle. An astounding 35% of teen males have used protein powders or shakes to enhance muscles (6% have used anabolic steroids!!). I was just made aware of a bill in Massachusetts proposing to make diet pills and supplements illegal for minors to purchase. Why all the fuss? Read more