Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dr. Rivera presents emerging public health issues among Anchorage youth at 34th Annual Alaska Health Summit

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 — Dr. Marny Rivera, a faculty member of the UAA Justice Center, presented emerging public health issues among Anchorage youth at the 34th Annual Alaska Health Summit.  Her co-presenters were Curtis Smith (UAA Center for Human Development) and Drs. Gabriel Garcia and Travis Hedwig (UAA Department of Health Sciences).  Together, they presented an assessment of current behavioral health concerns among Anchorage youth through the analysis of primary and secondary data sources.

They presented three major findings.  First, while substance use is trending downward across nearly all substances and age groups, there are still racial/ethnic disparities in substance use and differences in the types of substance used.  Second, poor mental health conditions affect a sizeable proportion of youth.  However, some groups are more likely to be affected by these conditions, including racial/ethnic minorities, high school freshmen, and females.  Third, a significant proportion of youth experience bullying in school or electronically.  Those who report being bullied are also likely to report alcohol use and binge drinking, feeling alone and sad or hopeless, missing school, and having suicidal thoughts.  Dr. Rivera and her co-presenters discussed the importance of enhancing and increasing internal and external youth assets to address these problems.

For more information on their 2015 behavioral health and wellness assessment:
Presenting at the 34th Annual Alaska Health Summit (left to right): Dr. Travis Hedwig, UAA Department of Health Sciences; Dr. Gabriel Garcia, UAA Department of Health Sciences; Curtis Smith, UAA Center for Human Development; Dr. Marny Rivera, UAA Justice Center