The Essentials of Adolescent Health


In 2014, the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, launched a national call to action to promote adolescent health and healthy development. Since then, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG) has identified and engaged with dozens of stakeholders nationwide who are implementing strategies to improve adolescent health.


Many determinants of adolescent health lie outside the health care system. For this reason, the TAG Playbook offers specific action steps that stakeholders in five youth-serving sectors can take to promote the health and healthy development of young people. These action steps are organized around the Five Essentials for Healthy Adolescents, a strengths-based framework that is grounded in research. The Five Essentials were identified by OAH and representatives from more than 80 leading national organizations that serve adolescents in the U.S.


What are the Five Essentials? 

To be healthy, adolescents need:

  1. Positive connections with supportive people.
  2. Safe and secure places to live, learn, and play.
  3. Access to high-quality, teen-friendly health care.
  4. Opportunities to engage as learners, leaders, team members, and workers.
  5. Coordinated, adolescent- and family-centered services.


Each of the Five Essentials is grounded in research and best practices. The research summaries below explain why these essentials are critical for healthy adolescents:


Key Resources

  • TAG in Action one-pagers are successful program strategies that incorporate the core principles of TAG.
  • TAG Resources help professionals, organizations, parents, families, and other interested adults implement TAG in their communities
  • TAG Talks videos feature experts reviewing the latest research on adolescent health topics, such as the power of the adolescent brain, with discussion guides for parents and professionals.


The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) mission is "leading the nation to ensure that America’s adolescents thrive and become healthy, productive adults." To learn more about OAH and its work to improve adolescent health, visit the OAH website, follow @TeenHealthGov on Twitter, and sign up for OAH and Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG) e-updates. 





U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -

Filed Under: Health