YAC4SBIRT: Teens Intervening Against Substance Use

By Cameron Estrada, School-Based Health Alliance Youth Development Intern, Youth Advisory Council

As the academic year begins, I’m reminded of the School-Based Health Alliance’s goal to help youth gain access to care and succeed in the classroom and beyond. I’ve been involved with the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) since I was 16, and now, three years later, I’m more excited than ever to embark on the latest charge we’ve set for ourselves.

This year, YAC is taking on new roles and responsibilities, both as a council and at an organizational level within the Alliance. One of these new roles is YAC’s work with the SBIRT in SBHC initiative. SBIRT, which stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, is an evidence-based program aimed at identifying, preventing, and reducing substance use in teens. SBIRT in SBHC is not something new to the Alliance, but youth working so closely with this national project is—and I’m so excited to be a part of it. As the SBIRT liaison to YAC, I represent the youth perspective on the project, offering insights and training on youth development and serving on the Project Advisory Group for the SBIRT initiative. I took this role because I understand that this is an opportunity to prove what an asset youth can be. We’ve been the recipients of amazing programs such as SBIRT, but to help build such a program will ensure that this care truly benefits us. As the saying goes, “Nothing about us is for us without us.”

As an integrated part of the SBIRT in SBHC initiative, YAC is hosting a webinar for school-based health centers participating in the project. During this webinar, we will provide advice on how youth can be involved from the beginning to the end of the project. We hope to give the SBIRT grantees a better understanding of youth development, different forms of youth participation, and how young people within their schools can become champions for SBIRT. We hope participates will find the webinar useful, especially since the new grantees are required to include at least two youth on their school-based health center’s SBIRT planning team. These youth will give clinicians feedback on their motivational interviewing skills and how to successfully conduct the brief interventions and relay information on treatment options and referrals.

This project is becoming truly youth-centered, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. The Alliance is giving YAC new opportunities to be involved and take responsibility in a field we are passionate about—and I believe this level of youth development marks a new era for the School-Based Health Alliance. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

More Information on SBIRT in SBHCs

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