This month, the Radnorite has decided to devote many of its articles to the topic of mental health. As it turns out, however, Pennsylvania also chose this month to celebrate health by declaring its first-ever teen health week in the state, and possibly even the country, which is taking place from January 24th to 30th.
The idea for this week started at the very heart of Radnor with Dr. Laura Offutt, previously a member of the Radnor Board of Health and currently a member of West Chester’s Community Volunteers, the American College of Physicians, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is also where this week commenced. Dr. Offutt came up with the idea with the help of teenagers this past August, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia proceeded to support the idea and helped make it a reality.
Teen Health Week isn’t just another few days on the calendar though. Dr. Offutt initiated the recognition of a full seven days solely to the health of teens in order to spread awareness on teen health through flyers, social media, and suggested contests and activities at schools and to provide adolescents with accurate information that they don’t always find when they scour the Internet for answers to their questions. Recognizing the large amount of teens out there and having kids of her own, Dr. Offutt believes that it is essential to provide teenagers with the right knowledge to help them make wise health decisions so that they could have a healthier future. As she noted in an article for the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Quality and Value Blog, “Health behavior patterns established during adolescence both affect the individual’s current and future health, and have the potential to lay the foundation, either positively or negatively, for adult health…promoting healthy behavior in teens promotes a healthy population in general.”
Unfortunately, despite these efforts to promote teen health, this week, which is marked by droopy eyes and racing hearts, is likely Radnor’s unhealthiest week of the year next to finals week as a result of mid terms. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that we should simply scan over it, like we do over those last few math notes, and disregard the importance of the issues it addresses.
Each day of the week is attributed to a different aspect of health that is related to and of concern to adolescents. Monday focuses on eating healthy and exercising, Tuesday addresses violence, Wednesday revolves around mental health, Thursday emphasizes sexual health, and Friday closes the week by spreading awareness on substance use and abuse.
Chances are that if you are reading this, Teen Health Week has already passed right under your nose as you spent all of it reviewing textbooks and stressing out every second of the day, but if you are currently taking a study break, be sure to wear your comfiest neon green or lime sweatshirt to school tomorrow to spread awareness and support this presumably insignificant but in reality very important week!