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Medical & Health Issues

Teenage Health

Teenagers and Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in Australia. According to recent surveys, around 40 per cent of young people aged 12-17 have had a full serve of alcohol and around 60 per cent of year 10-12 students have drunk alcohol at least once. 

For young people, alcohol use is associated with a range of health risks, including:

  • unsafe sex
  • unwanted sex
  • unintended pregnancy
  • drink-driving and road accidents
  • violence and aggressive behaviour
  • criminal activity.

Teenagers and Body Image

Young people are at risk of developing a negative body image, where they dislike the way they look. 

The related health problems for young people can include:

  • crash dieting and malnourishment
  • eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia nervosa
  • obesity
  • steroid use (to build muscle mass).

Teenagers and Bullying

Estimates suggest around one in six children are bullied every few weeks or more in Australia.

Young people are bullied by their peers for many reasons, including:

  • the way they look (for example, if they are overweight)
  • resisting pressure to conform
  • their cultural or socioeconomic background or religion
  • their academic achievements
  • their sexual orientation or behaviour
  • being ‘the new kid’ at school.

Teenagers and Smoking

Despite widespread media campaigns, tobacco smoking is still popular among young people in Australia, especially young women, though the number of young people who smoke cigarettes is decreasing.

Smoking tobacco increases people’s risk of:

  • cancers of the lung, throat and mouth
  • reduced lung function
  • asthma and other respiratory problems
  • damaged senses of smell and taste
  • heart disease, major heart attack and stroke.

Teenagers and Family life

Young people can face issues relating to family life, including:

  • relationship problems between family members
  • family violence
  • abuse, including neglect and physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • separation and divorce.

For some young people, a change in family circumstances can be positive. For example, if there has been a lot of conflict in a family, separation may be a better option.

Teenagers and Illicit Drugs

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is an illicit drug commonly used by young people. Around 17 per cent of year 10-12 students and around 14 per cent of 14-19 year olds have used cannabis at least once. Other commonly used illicit drugs include hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy, with very small percentages of 12 to 17 year olds having used one of these at least once. 

It is often assumed that young people turn to illicit drugs to ease depression or anxiety, but most try drugs simply for fun. Young men are more likely than young women to experiment with illicit drugs. Those who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol are also more likely to try illicit drugs than those who do not.

Teenagers and Media

Media, including print, television, film and online, can negatively affect young people in many ways, including:

  • exposing them to extreme violence, which can desensitise them to reality
  • supporting the cultural ideal that only thin is beautiful, which promotes body image problems
  • reinforcing the importance of money, consumerism and status symbols.

Teenagers and Suicide

After car accidents, suicide is the most common cause of death among young people in Australia. Research shows more young women than young men attempt suicide, but young men are far more likely to take their own lives.

In the past 10 years, the suicide rate for males aged 15 to 24 years has dropped considerably. However, young men living in rural and remote areas are more likely than those living in the city to take their own lives.

Teenagers and Sexual Relationships

Young people need access to comprehensive, factual information about sexuality to safely negotiate adult relationships.

The issues young people may be confronted with include:

  • safer sex
  • contraception
  • sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
  • unplanned pregnancy
  • peer pressure
  • cultural definitions of gender roles and sexual orientation.

Teenagers and Pregnancy

South Australian figures show around three per cent of young women aged 15 to 19 years became pregnant in 2011. Of these, around 50 per cent had an abortion.

Pregnancy can be a positive time for a young woman, but she may be confronted with issues such as:

  • emotional distress
  • isolation or a lack of understanding and support from family and friends
  • complications during pregnancy and birth
  • financial pressures.

Where to Get Help

  • Your doctor
  • Kids Help Line Tel. 1800 55 1800
  • The Royal Children’s Hospital Young People’s Health Service Tel. (03) 9611 2409
  • Community health centre
  • Women’s health centre
  • Family Planning Victoria Tel. (03) 9257 0100 or freecall 1800 013 952
  • Family Planning Victoria’s Action Centre (for people aged under 25) Tel. (03) 9660 4700 or freecall 1800 013 952
  • Gay and Lesbian Switchboard Tel. (03) 9663 2939 (Melbourne) 1800 184 527 (Regional Victoria and Tasmania)
  • Safe Schools Coalition Victoria Tel. (03) 9479 8738



Young Adults' Health

Sex and Other Health Issues

 There are many different types and methods of contraception. Most of them help prevent pregnancy  but the male condom is the only form of contraception that protects against STIs. Here’s how to choose the right contraception for you.

Young man opening a condom


 Read More About Contraception Options


Drugs and alcohol

Drugs and alcohol

Learn more about alcohol and a range of drugs including marijuana, ice (crystal meth), speed and MDMA (ecstasy) as well as how to help someone with a drug problem.

Read More About Drugs and Alcohol

Glandular fever is caused by an infection with Epstein-Barr virus.

Glandular fever

 Glandular fever (also called the ‘kissing disease’ or infectious mononucleosis) is an infectious disease which is common in teenagers and young adults. Find out about how it’s spread, common symptoms, when to see a doctor and prevention methods.

Read More About Glandular Fever

Hangover cures

Hangover Cures

Splitting headaches, sickness, dizziness, dehydration: anyone who’s ever drunk too much knows the consequences of it. While there are no cures for a hangover, here are tips for avoiding one and for easing the symptoms if you have them.

Read More About Hangover Cures

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

STIs include highly contagious diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes, hepatitis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Learn how to maintain good sexual health, how to spot symptoms, when to get tested, and how STIs are treated.

Read More About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
Man looking very stressed.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Although signs of suicide may not be apparent at first, they are always there. If you notice any warning signs in a loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and share your concerns. Here are things to look out for.

Read More About Warning Signs of  Suicide
A man walking.

What is Addiction?

 Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something, to the point where it could be harmful to you. This article describes the types and causes of addiction and what treatments are available.

Read More About What is Addiction?
Warning sign showing man digging hole.

Workplace Health

Working environment can play a big part in our health and wellbeing. Learn about things you can do to reduce your risk of work-related ill-health, and to use your time at work to boost your health.

Read More About Workplace Health


Worried About Your Health?


Depression in Teenagers and Young Adults

Black Dog Institute

Information about depression in teenagers and young adults including signs and symptoms and where to get help

Read More About Depression in Teenagers and Young Adults

Young Adults’ Health


Learn about health topics relevant to young adults, such as stress, alcohol and drugs, sexual health and work-life-balance.

Read More About Young Adults' Health

Arthritis Australia

It can be difficult to find information about how arthritis affects your life when you are a young adult. That is why Arthritis Australia has produced this booklet. It has been specifically designed to contain input from young people with arthritis who have overcome many of the same challenges you may be facing today

Read More About Stepping  Out - a Guide for Young Adults With Arthritis

Clinical practice guidelines: depression in adolescents and young adults Health promotion resources Key resources Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

The details of promotion resource - Clinical practice guidelines: depression in adolescents and young adults

Read more about Clinical practice guidelines: depression in adolescents and young adults Health promotion resources Key resources Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet 

Screening tests for young adults - Lab Tests Online AU

Lab Tests Online

From the age of 18 to those young women who are sexually active, or from one or two years after first having sexual intercourse.

Read More About Screening Tests for Young Adults - Lab Tests Online AU  


Kids Helpline

Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Get Info for:

Preparing for Parenthood 
Dealing With Difficult News
Social Anxiety
Dealing With Conflict
A New Family Member
Blended Families

and much more. Contact the Kids Help Line on: 1800 55 1800.



Youth Cancer Service

What is cancer? What is chemotherapy? Will my hair fall out?

With cancer comes so many questions. No-one has all the answers but this website is a good place to start. You can find out about different types of cancers, test, treatments, ways to cope with cancer and much much more.

Everything on the website has been written in consultation with professionals who have experience working with young people who have cancer. Plus young people themselves help them with all their info….so you know it’s good!

Check out the website by clicking here.