Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Health. Discussion »
BETHESDA, MARYLAND - The beginning of another school year is a good time for American Indian parents and guardians to monitor how their teens are feeling about themselves. Their self-esteem should be monitored throughout the year.
“One of the biggest battles we have in Indian Country is to assist our families and communities with elevating the self esteem and positive cultural identity of our Native youth,”
states Hunter Genia, who is the Behavior Health Administrator for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, based in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
Teens who feel good about themselves are more likely to grow into young adults who feel better about their health, according to a recently released study by Northwestern University. The study analyzed data from more than 10,000 young people in grades 7 through 12 of the 1994-1995 school year, who were followed until 2001.
"Positive well being is also associated with fewer risky health behaviors such as smoking and physical inactivity," states Lindsay Till Hoyt at Northwestern University.
The study in the Journal of Adolescent Health was supported by the National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Positive well-being during adolescence was significantly associated with reporting better perceived general health during young adulthood, independent of depressive symptoms. Positive well-being was also significantly associated with fewer risky health behaviors in Wave III, after adding all covariates, including depressive symptoms and baseline risky health behaviors.
"Self-esteem and confidence are critical components of health and wellness for teens. Native American youth face some of the most significant disparities in the United States and thus strong self-esteem is critical for development," comments Erin Bailey, director of the Center of Native American Youth, based at the Aspen Institute in Washington. "Nurturing, positive messages are important for supporting Native youth and helping them find success."
"There is no doubt in my mind that raising a child in a home and community with love, stability, and healthy values and principles only give our youth an increased chance of a positive future," Genia continued.
"I'm not surprised at all that the research only reinforces what we already know working in the field of social work for so many years. Every tribal community is faced with the question of how we increase the health and wellness of our tribal youth. Everywhere I go parents and leaders ask me the same question 'how do we change what is happening'. In my mind the first prevention to risk of alcohol, drugs, suicide and low esteem is in the home and then the community. We have to start in the home and that means we need healthy parents to raise healthy children. That doesn't take research or a social scientist to figure that one out."
posted September 8, 2011 7:40 am edt
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