Co-Creating Health Solutions with Young People
Peer Health Exchange (PHE) will deliver inclusive health education to over 3,000 young people in LA classrooms, and beyond the classroom PHE will provide digital health solutions to over 10,000 of LA's young people. PHE's digital solutions, including our health app selfsea, reach young people anytime and anywhere they need support or connections to resources. PHE's programs are co-designed with young people and created to positively impact their mental health, sexual health, and substance misuse prevention.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Health Care Access
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
County of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Peer Health Exchange (PHE) seeks to address health equity challenges for young people in LA. Young people are experiencing overlapping crises detrimental to their health. In 2021, 42% of LGBTQIA+ young people nationwide seriously considered suicide, and more than 70% stated that their mental health was "poor." Even prior to the pandemic, suicide rates among Black youth in California doubled between 2014 and 2020. For young BIPOC people, the stress of the pandemic is compounded by the trauma of increasingly visible racism and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on their communities. In South LA, 37% of teenagers said they needed mental and/or emotional health care. PHE seeks to meet these challenges by working in partnership with young people to provide access to health education and connections to care. Our work, both in communities and through digital health solutions, prioritizes Black, Latine, and LGBTQIA+ youth.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
PHE seeks to address health equity challenges by providing inclusive, identity-affirming health education in schools and communities, and through digital health solutions that reach LA's youth beyond the classroom. PHE's in-person health education workshops focus on building young peoples' skills in support of their mental health, sexual health, and substance misuse prevention. We hire and train PHE Fellows (ages 18-24) to serve as high-school classroom health educators. We've found that recruiting young adults to serve in their communities in this way provides deeper impact, and they are well-positioned to lead challenging, relatable health conversations with high-school age students. Beyond the classroom, we are growing our digital presence in response to the growing needs young people have expressed for accessible, free, and youth-friendly health content and resources. Our web-app selfsea (visit selfsea.org) was built with young people in response to their health priorities. Selfsea has over 204,000 users across the country (10,000 from LA), and our TikTok health videos have reached over 9 million views. By making it easy and approachable for young people to connect to app-suggested resources, selfsea is also increasing help-seeking behaviors for health and connecting LA's young people to care. Across all our work we seek to elevate youth voice and leadership to advance health equity. We co-design and evaluate our programs directly with young people.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
We believe in a world where every young person has full access and every opportunity to a healthy, happy life. By offering programs that increase health knowledge and skills and reducing barriers to applying them, we intend to improve health equity outcomes among LA's youth. In our digital work, we are not only looking at how our tools can lower anxiety, depression, and sense of isolation, but also intentionally built our app to serve as a joyful space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ youth. PHE's programs are designed to support youth agency, confidence, and skills to advocate for their health and the health of their communities. In the long term, we are committed to continuing our in-person workshops, scaling digital health solutions to reach more young people, and building pathways for PHE participants to build health advocacy and leadership skills.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Both external and internal evaluation show that PHE's in-person workshops have statistically significant, positive impact on young people's mental and sexual health, in particular on improving their ability to seek help for their health. Early survey data on the impact of our health app selfsea indicate PHE can also have a positive impact in the digital realm - 76% of selfsea users surveyed reported that engaging with selfsea reduced feelings of loneliness, which we know is an outcome closely tied to improved wellbeing. This year, PHE will measure impact by our ability to reach over 3,000 young people in LA (over 15,000 nationwide) with in-person health education workshops. We will pre/post test students to assess positive impact on health knowledge, skills, attitudes, and intentions. We also assess analytics in our app. We intend for over 20% of selfsea users to connect to resources, and will reach over 100,000 young people nationwide and approximately 10,000 young people in LA.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 13,000
Indirect Impact: 115,000