Taking STEPS to Help Teens
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STEPS also provides a wellness website written by Dr. Lucas, the STEPS staff, faculty from NYU, and health/mental health professionals from a college health website company already working with NYU Student Health. There are two separate sites — one for teens (TEEN PATHWAYS), and one for parents (PARENT PATHWAYS) — and both will be packed with need-to-know information, interactive activities to build skills, self-assessment components to look for warning signs, and online screenings to help identify at-risk behavior. In participating school districts, on a regular basis throughout the school year, parents and teens will be able to receive customized emails inviting them to learn more about a particular health topic, to explore the relevant areas of the two specially designed websites and to participate in self-assessments or more formal screening. Resources on the Teen Pathways website also include interactive activities to increase understanding and teach techniques, and moderated social networking and online discussion pages allowing students to share their experiences. The Parent Pathways website will provide parent-specific information, highlighting "warning signs" for parents and offering online parent discussion groups. Finally, they'll provide access to treatment. "One of the key components is connecting identified teens with treatment resources locally," adds Dr. Lucas.
STEPS is a continuing program with rolling admission that began this fall in Rockland County, but Dr. Lucas hopes to branch out statewide. "One exciting component of STEPS is the inclusion of high school students themselves in both the design and implementation of the program in their school communities," says Dr. Lucas. "Interested students from each participating school will have the opportunity to become STEPS Fellows, advising on content of the educational materials and prevention activities." High school students will also be encouraged to carry out a small scientific project with guidance from research faculty at the Child Study Center. At the end of the year, STEPS Fellows will have the opportunity to present their findings and be eligible for a college scholarship award.
STEPS is free. Interested parents, teens, or schools should email Steps@med.nyu.edu for more information.