Adolescent & Young Adult Development

Adolescence (age 10-25) is a time of enormous development, growth and change, second only to infancy. It’s when young people explore, figure things out, and take charge by accomplishing the developmental tasks that prepare them for adulthood.

To succeed in completing these tasks, the research shows that young people need these supports, whether through informal networks for formal programming:

  • Caring adults
  • Connections to their schools and communities
  • Basics like food, shelter, and safety
  • Opportunities to test their values and make a difference

Young people who have these supports in place are more likely to become healthy adults, less likely to be involved in risk behaviors, generally do better in school, and are more likely to believe in their own abilities. 

Fact sheets on Adolescent Developmental Stages 

(updated in 2023 to be more gender expansive)

Supports Youth Need

This 7-page guide offers details on how state public health professionals can support these stages of adolescence in their programs and daily work. 

Understanding Adolescence

This 5-part video series (updates are in the planning stages) give state public health professionals and their colleagues an accessible overview of adolescent development and supports.

  1. The Basics (21 min.)
  2. Development Tasks - Body (25 min.)
  3. Developmental Tasks - Sense of Self, Relationships (33 min.)
  4. Understanding Adolescence (Now What?) (20 min.)
  5. Video Series Embedded Links and Tools
What is MCH's Role in Supporting Young Adults? 

This 14-minute video outlines how state MCH professionals can support this crucial stage of adolescence. 

10 Things MCH Professionals Should Know about Young Adults  

This is not your grandma's young adulthood: watch this 19-minute video to better understand this demographic at this time in history. 

Young Adult Health: What Makes Them Unique (2020)

If you're ready for a deeper dive, this three part webinar series explores how public health professionals can support YA development, with a focus on young adult mental health and and young adult males.

Adolescent Developmental Timeline Activity

This group activity for SAHCs and MCH professionals is a fun way to explore the stages of adolescent development find fresh ways to apply this knowledge to their work. (Facilitator instructions and materials included).

Adolescent Developmental Case Study Activity 
This activity leads groups in analyzing typical youth behaviors through a developmental lens and identifying developmentally appropriate strategies to support that development.