Call for new breed of professional to support teenagers

Teenagers are being let down by inconsistent and unreliable
services, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research,
the think tank closest to Government.

And on the same day as the IPPR launched the results of a
consultation with young people, the British Medical Association
also called for a co-ordinated approach to adolescent health.

The BMA report paints an alarming picture of teenagers’
deteriorating health. They are increasingly likely to be
overweight, to go on drinking binges, to acquire a sexually
transmitted disease and to experience a mental health problem, says
the doctors’ professional association.

“It is high time we provided education and healthcare
services that target the specific needs of young people. We need to
ensure that young people do not fall between services for children
and those designed for adults”, said a BMA spokesperson.

The IPPR recommends a teenage equivalent of the Sure Start
programme to provide consistent and effective support, intervention
and activities for teens.

Laura Edwards, IPPR’s senior research fellow said:
“We need new types of professional who can work with
teenagers to provide activities and support over a period of time.
They need to be people who have more than one tool in the bag
– a new profession might combine the skills of youth and
social work, mental health and careers services.”

There should also be a national audit of the quality and number
of youth clubs says the IPPR with a commitment to develop new
modern youth clubs combining activity with support and advice.

The IPPR also says young people should be more involved in
shaping and running services. “There is a need to develop
roles for young people as managers, advisers, governors, auditors,
fundraisers and volunteers in community level services.”

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