Taking care of teen health

Will County has resources for complete adolescent wellness

According to a news from the Will County Health Department, teens should have a yearly well-care visit with a trusted health care professional to discuss and address potential issues, and help set the adolescent up for a lifetime of good health.

Unlike a sports physical, a yearly well-care visit is comprehensive, and typically includes a health history and physical exam, vision and hearing screenings, immunizations and vaccines, and overall physical health.

Physical health would include weight and diet, emotional health screenings, including depression and anxiety screenings, bullying and violence prevention, guidance for healthy relationships, sexual health including the prevention of STDs and pregnancy, and discussion of drug or alcohol use or experimentation.

In 2017, only 50% of Illinois adolescents, aged 12 to 21, received a yearly well-care visit as compared to over 75% of children aged 3 to 6.

This is unfortunate because while adolescence is generally characterized as a time of good health, it also is a time when mental health and substance use disorders may begin to emerge, and a time when teens are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors.

For instance, the number of Illinois teens who reported using marijuana during the past year has remained stable since 2008.

But the number of high school seniors who say using it would make peers perceive them as “cool” doubled – from 25% to 50% over the past decade, according to a new report by the University of Illinois Center for Prevention Research and Development.

The report, titled “Youth Marijuana Use in Illinois,” was based on the latest Illinois Youth Survey, according to a news release from the U of I. The results are based on a randomly drawn sample of more than 11,200 students in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades in Illinois, the U of I release also said.

Marijuana use was highest among 12th graders, with about 25.6% reporting they had used marijuana during the past 30 days, compared with 13.2% of 10th graders and 5.2% of eighth graders, the U of I release said.

Teens’ most common means of using marijuana was smoking via joint, bong, pipe or blunt. However, vaping it and ingesting edible marijuana are also commonplace, the survey found, the U of I release said.

Among 12th graders who had used during the prior 30 days, 6% said they had used marijuana more than 20 times, the U of I release said.

The perception of being seen as cool if they smoked marijuana was higher among females than males, the U of I survey found.

And according to the 2018 Illinois Youth Survey for Will County, 32% of Will County eighth grade students, 40% of 10th grade students, and 62% of 12th grade students reported using one or more substances; including alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, or marijuana; in the past year, the health department release said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 38% of teens reported having had sex, and 47% of teens did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter, the health department release said.

Dr. Anusha Khapekar, a graduate of Loyola University and Midwestern University Medical School and is now the Will County Community Health Center’s pediatrician, strongly encourages parents/guardians to call their health care provider today to make a yearly well-care visit for their adolescent.

“The teen years are hard and a lot of things can come up, both mental and physical, that teens are too embarrassed to talk about,” Khapekar said in a health department news release. “They could be struggling with depression or anxiety, perhaps because of social or body image worries.

Also according to the 2018 Illinois Youth Survey for Will County, over one-third of Will County high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more, while 16% of students in 12th grade seriously considered attempting suicide.

Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital in New Lenox is aware that teens face increasing challenges from daily life.

That's why Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital is now providing specialized inpatient psychiatric treatment to adolescents ages 13 to 17 (18 if still in high school), according to a news release from Silver Oaks.

The 25-bed unit, which opened earlier this year, is dedicated to providing a safe and therapeutic environment of care for teens, the Silver Oaks release said.

While in treatment, teens will learn different types of coping mechanisms and techniques to help them understand mental health and appropriate self-care, the Silver Oaks release said.

Among others, the inpatient adolescent program will provide evidence-based treatment for depression, anxiety, ADHD, impulse control, self-injury, anger, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts and trauma related conditions, the Silver Oaks release said.

Under the direction of Dr. Jyoti Randhawa, chief medical officer and board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, the program will feature regular provider meetings combined with group therapy, recreation therapy and weekly family activities, the Silver Oaks release said.

A focus on education is also included so teens won’t fall behind in their school work, the Silver Oaks release said.

Youth suicide in Illinois is of great concern. For every completed adolescent suicide, there is an estimated 100 to 200 attempts, the Silver Oaks release also said.

Youths aged 15 to 19 have the highest rate of suicide attempts than any other age group in the state, the Silver Oaks release also said.


Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital provides no cost mental health assessments 24/7. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 844-580-5000.

If a parent/guardian doesn’t have a provider for their teen, they can make an appointment with Khapekar at the Will County Community Health Center at 815-727-8670.

The Will County Community Health Center accepts major insurance plans, Medicaid, and Medicare, and sliding scale fees based on income are offered.

The Will County Community Health Center will not turn anyone away based upon ability to pay.

If health insurance assistance is needed, the Will County Community Health Center has certified application counselors on site who will help with enrollment into the Affordable Care Act or Marketplace insurance.

For more information on Will County Health Department programs, visit willcountyhealth.org.