A cause marketing campaign with Next Step presents a unique opportunity for companies to simultaneously increase profits, raise brand or product awareness and improve the happiness of your consumer while also helping teens and young adults living with chronic life-threatening illness. Contact Colin Mueller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 617.864.2921 if you are interested in starting a cause marketing campaign with Next Step.
The Need For Next Step
• Survival rates have increased for youth living with a chronic life-threatening illness, with those reaching the age of 21 jumping from 30% in the 1970’s to over 90% today.
• In the United States, an estimated 500,000 youth living with a chronic life-threatening illness turn eighteen years of age each year and proudly refer to themselves as a young adult.
• 59% of youth living with a chronic life-threatening illness do not successfully transition into an adult healthcare system.
• 50% of Next Step youth participants suffer from depression or anxiety.
The challenges of high school and the transition to adulthood can test any young person. For youth with chronic life-threatening diseases, these challenges can appear insurmountable. In recent decades, advances in medical research and treatment have increased the survival rates for youth with chronic illnesses, with those reaching the age of 21 jumping from 30% in the 1970’s to over 90% today. An estimated 500,000 youth living with a chronic life-threatening illness turn eighteen years of age each year in the United States and proudly refer to themselves as a young adult. These individuals are among the first generation of young people to survive their illness, and in many ways look and act just like any other young person. However, we would be remiss to ignore the complexity and difficulty that their survival entails. We continue to see a tremendous amount of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and learning disabilities among our youth participants. More than fifty percent of the youth participants at Next Step are actively being treated for depression or anxiety. Stigma associated with a diagnosis often requires youth to keep their illness a secret. Living with a sense of hopelessness and isolation at the launch of adult life can cause apathy, anger and medical non-compliance. For individuals with significant health issues, these behaviors can be fatal. These psychological issues are often compounded by risky behavior and a lack of support that they so desperately need at a pivotal time in their life.
Medical treatment in childhood can have detrimental long-term impacts, including problems with development, fertility, learning disorders, social and mental health issues, and ongoing medical problems. Long absences from school during treatment can delay their academic, social and professional development during a crucial time in their life when they are trying to define who they really are as a person. The missed time often prevents these young people from learning basic life-skills that are needed to succeed in their professional career. While adhering to intense medical treatment helps them to survive to adulthood, their treatment often impedes their ability to accomplish common milestones like finishing high school, applying to college, independent living, entering the workforce, and dating or marriage. Services to help these youth become successful adults are rare.
An overwhelming 59% of all chronically ill youth do not transition successfully into the adult healthcare system. After transitioning out of their pediatric healthcare system, their illness often goes unmanaged and their health rapidly declines leading to dire consequences. The adult healthcare system offers insufficient support to the personal needs of the patient. It is centered on treating the illness and not on providing personal support to the patient. Adult medical providers are not always prepared to treat childhood onset diseases, such as HIV, sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis. Many adult medical providers lack the training to treat these young people since they are the first generation with their illness to transition to adulthood and into an adult healthcare system. The lack of support that they receive once they transition out of their pediatric healthcare system often leaves our youth feeling isolated and abandoned. This is made painfully clear in a recent study that shows the highest mortality rate for individuals with sickle cell disease is 2 years after they transition out of pediatric care. To successfully overcome the systematic barriers that exist between the different healthcare systems and also to succeed in their academic or professional career, it is imperative that young people living with a chronic life-threatening illness learn effective self-care management and job-readiness skills to overcome the existing barriers in their life. Only then can they make a successful transition to adulthood and into an adult healthcare system.