Youth Health

Young people with healthy food

Find out more about the purpose, vision, aims, objectives and overall approach of NHS Health Scotland´s Youth Health Programme. The pages also highlight the national policy context, existing evidence of effective interventions, main priorities and current work programme.

Our approach to Youth Health

The term ‘youth’ refers to the stage in life between childhood and adulthood, although definitions regarding the specific age range can vary. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) define youth as being between the ages of 15 and 24 years. However, the WHO defines ´young people´ as between 10-24 years old and ´adolescence´ as between 10 and 19 years old. In line with the WHO, NHS Health Scotland’s Youth Health Programme focuses on young people aged 10-24 years.

Young people can experience a wide range of cognitive, biological and emotional changes as well as unique social transitions. All of these factors can impact significantly upon their health and wellbeing. In addition, many health behaviours are adopted during this time which continue into adulthood. Health improvement programmes targeted towards young people can play an effective role with regards to improving the health of the wider population.

Adopting a holistic approach to health and wellbeing enables Health Scotland´s Youth Health Programme to extend its focus beyond the delivery of health care services to also encourage healthy behaviours in young people, empower individuals to improve their own health and address the social determinants of health.

Aims and objectives

The Youth Health Programme will support NHS Health Scotland’s Corporate Strategy 2012-2017 and act as a national coordinating body to support the delivery of youth health improvement policy across Scotland.

We will:

  • Assist, co-ordinate and disseminate relevant data which identifies priority health and wellbeing issues facing young people in Scotland.
  • Seek to influence and support delivery of health policy relating to young people.
  • Work closely with key partners to positively influence a range of health determinants for young people.
  • Strive to develop, gather and communicate the evidence-base with regards to programmes, interventions, actions and activities designed to improve the health and wellbeing of young people.
  • Encourage and support multi-sector responses to improve youth health and address health inequalities.
  • Support networking opportunities and skills development.
  • Influence the development of healthy environments for young people.
  • Support opportunities for young people to participate in work carried out to improve their health.

Updated 18 July 2012