LPHI Releases 2021 Survey Results on Youth and Young Adult Health in Shreveport
(April 5, 2022) – The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s (LPHI) Geaux Talk program released a report titled Youth and Young Adult Health in Shreveport, Louisiana: 2021 Survey Results that outlines the state of health for Shreveport youth and young adults ages 15-24. Overall, survey respondents indicated that mental and sexual health are the biggest concern in the region. The report also looked at additional topics including violence, academic performance, emotional abuse and neglect, bullying, substance use, suicide, nutrition/obesity, and more.
In conjunction with the release of the report, Geaux Talk hosted an art contest asking Shreveport youth to submit pieces of art that demonstrate what health means to them. Submissions answered the question: “What is the greatest health issue facing young people today?” The third-place winner was Zara Linnear who submitted a piece called Behind Closed Depressed Doors. Jade Burris was second with a piece called Duality. First place went to Julianna for her piece called I want to, but I’m not Allowed.
“Young people in the Shreveport region deserve access to quality and comprehensive health services and education,” said Kristie Bardell, managing director at LPHI. “This report helped us identify the existing resources, gaps in services, major health concerns for this age group, the challenges in addressing health outcomes, and the opportunities for improving the overall health.”
The assessment, which used a mixed-methods approach to gather community input, was conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated underlying mental health concerns and the effects of trauma on the mental well-being of young people. Mental health was mentioned as a top concern by every stakeholder type. Young people felt overwhelmingly as though there are not enough resources to support mental health and that there were few places to turn for services. Stigma also plays a large role in preventing youth from accessing services and information for both mental and sexual health.
Regarding sexual health, youth focus group participants, CBOs, and health service providers, in particular, felt that sexual health remained a taboo topic in the area and that there was a lack of sex education and resources. Between 2016 and 2018, young people under the age of 24 accounted for 71% of chlamydia diagnoses and 62% of gonorrhea diagnoses in the Shreveport area. The Louisiana Department of Health Public Health Region 7, where Caddo Parish is located, had the third-highest number and rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses in Louisiana.
“Improving and supporting adolescent health requires understanding the social determinants of health for young people in the Caddo Parish area,” said Arien Ragster, Family Health senior program coordinator for LPHI. “By educating youth and young adults on these health factors, as well as programs and resources that are available in the community, we can begin to address some of these issues and improve adolescent health.”
Despite challenges, participants identified many opportunities for advancing the health of young people in the region. These include advancing technology, building community support and trust, and engaging parents. Each system plays a unique and integral role in working together to meet the needs of young people in the community. Those interested in joining a coalition to support this work should visit GeauxTalk.org and enter an email address in the “Get Involved” section on the homepage.