Young people nowadays obtain conflicting messages on how to tackle and cope with the everyday options available to them which have lifelong repercussions for their healthy development.
Millions have been denied the vital support needed to become knowledgeable, confident and skilled adults. Most of these adolescents miss out on schooling for economic reasons or because their communities are displaced or disrupted by war or conflict. And, while most young people have loving families who protect and care for them, many grow up with no adults committed to their welfare or their health or where the ability of caring adults to support them has been damaged.
Countless adolescents are at risk of early and unwanted pregnancies, of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and AIDS, and susceptible to the dangers of tobacco use, alcohol and other drugs. Numerous young people are exposed to violence and fear on a daily basis. Some of the pressures adolescents are under, or the choices they make, can change the course of their young lives, or even end them.
These outcomes represent personal tragedies for young people and their families. Likewise, there are unacceptable losses that put the health and prosperity of society at risk. Addressing the needs of adolescents is a challenge that goes well beyond the role of health services alone. The legal framework, social policy, the safety of communities and opportunities for education and recreation are just some of the factors of civil society that are major components in achieving excellent and successful adolescent development.
Although health professionals perform a crucial function in taking care of adolescent patients and enhancing their health, welfare and well-being, the education they have may not sufficiently prepare them for this role. Researchers have found that pediatric residents and house officers frequently have very limited exposure to adolescent medicine (Rosen, 1996; Strasburger, 1997).
Several factors affect adolescents' access to health services. These include ethnicity, lack of insurance coverage, problematic clinic hours, poor means of transportation, disposition and conduct of health professionals, and the lack of assurance for confidentiality (Australian Health Ministers, 1995; Ryan, Millstein, Greene, 1995; Society for Adolescent Medicine, 1992).
An extensive understanding of theoretical frameworks in preventive health care, health promotion (WHO, 1986) and counselling is important for health professionals to be able to enhance adolescents' self-esteem and their use of internal and external resources in reducing potential risks and improve their health status. The counselling centers on the promotion of adolescents' social skills and emotional competencies, decision-making proficiencies, self-management capabilities, refusal or resistance dexterity and coping strategies (Fischhoff, Crowell and Kipke, 1999; WHO and UNICEF, 1999). In essence, health practitioners must recognize and contemplate on their own beliefs and values regarding adolescent sexual activity so as to promote responsible behaviour of adolescents and to prop them up in avoiding adverse consequences from sexual activity like STIs and unplanned pregnancies (Focus on Young Adults, 2001).
Northenden, South Manchester Northenden is a