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Faith-based Leaders

Leaders from faith-based organizations are encouraged to take action on one or more of the roles and responsibilities identified below that can promote adolescent health.

Faith-based Organizations: Making a Difference

Many adults in faith-based organizations are already supporting the health and healthy development of adolescents, including their spiritual development, either directly in their community, or through service and outreach beyond the place of worship. Many offer a range of services to youth and families regardless of religious beliefs.

In addition to activities and services that are religious in nature, many faith-based organizations provide social and healthcare to people regardless of denomination and direct services to youth and families.

Action Steps and Resources

Connect adolescents to adults

Provide adolescents with opportunities to meet and connect with members of the community, such as religious leaders, older adults, or peer leaders who can serve as role models or mentors. Offer activities, whether in worship, community service, outreach, music, or other programs, to help them connect with adults in the community and find role models or mentors.

Find more resources about connecting adolescents to adults.

Provide opportunities for adolescents to connect with peers in a safe environment

Help adolescents establish a network of friendships that can be relied upon in moments of crisis by providing opportunities for them to connect with peers through regular meetings, shared activities, and social media. Offer safe spaces for adolescents to gather, and share your space with out-of-school time programs and other activities.

Find more resources about providing opportunities for adolescents to connect with peers.

Provide service opportunities

Help youth grow in compassion and develop a sense of community responsibility to ease others’ suffering by providing opportunities for youth to serve others.

Find more resources about providing service opportunities.

Support the role of families in healthy adolescent development

Share ideas for strengthening families. Consider encouraging families to create special customs, such as weekly family nights. Provide seasonal events for families to attend, and/or family mission or service opportunities.

Find more resources about supporting the role of families in healthy adolescent development.

Connect young people to health information and resources

Identify and share existing community resources with young people. Offer programs on various aspects of adolescent health, such as physical activity, nutrition, new media use, or preventive healthcare. Provide brochures or host special presentations from local health clinics. Share health-related messages by Twitter, Facebook, or texts.

Find more resources about connecting young people to health information and resources.

Encourage healthy habits

Offer some activities that have a physical exercise component. Engage youth in making the community “greener” and healthier. Provide healthy food choices at fellowship times.

Find more resources about encouraging healthy habits.

Support adolescents’ spiritual growth

Convey beliefs and values, recognize milestones through religious rites, and help adolescents connect within their religious community and to the larger world around them.

Find more resources about supporting adolescents' spiritual growth.

Offer youth services or refer youth and their families to meet immediate needs

As appropriate, offer direct services to youth and their families, such as healthcare, mental health, foster care, refugee resettlement support, and education. Make referrals to community resources to help adolescents and their families meet pressing needs for food, shelter, mental health or other health, and social supports.

Find more resources about offering youth services to meet immediate needs.

Facilitate opportunities for youth skills training, internships, and employment

Provide leadership opportunities and training courses to build adolescents’ skills. Facilitate internships or entry-level jobs. Offer employment opportunities directly or reach out to businesses.

Find more resources about facilitating opportunities for youth skills training.


1 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2018). 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf

Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® and the logo design are registered trademarks of HHS.

Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on May 28, 2019