NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

44 Volume 85 • Number 5 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E PRACTICE  D I RECT FROM CDC ENV I RONMENTAL HEALTH SERV I CES Creating Resources to Support Teens After Natural Disasters According to a 2020 report published by the Society for Research in Child Development, each year more than 175 million children experience natural disasters like floods, severe storms, and earthquakes (Lai & La Greca, 2020). This problem has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic (U.S. Government Accountability O‹ce, 2020), which has made it even more di‹cult for local governments, schools, and families to plan for and recover from emergency situations. In the months following natural disasters, many teens struggle with stress, depression, and anxiety (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, n.d.). Yet few resources address the emotional challenges that teens can face in the aftermath of a disaster. To fill this gap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and CommunicateHealth (CH), an independent health communication and research agency, set out to develop materials that • encourage teens to use healthy strategies to cope after experiencing a natural disaster and • improve perceptions of social support and solidarity among teens who have experienced natural disasters. NCEH and CH wanted to create resources that reflect teen experiences with natural disasters and promote healthy coping skills. Using clear writing best practices, we developed materials that resonate with teens, including relatable stories and simple coping strategies to help teens manage stress in the aftermath of a disaster. Taking a Human-Centered Design Approach NCEH and CH wanted to create materials that put teens front and center, highlighting real-life stories of teens who have been through natural disasters. To achieve this goal, we applied a human-centered design approach that involved teens throughout the creative process. Step 1: Conduct Formative Research We conducted formative research with teens to inform the key messages, creative direction, and format of our materials. We used an interactive research platform called Aha! to gain insight into teen communication preferences and experiences with natural disasters. From our formative research, we learned that teens gravitate to real-life, firstperson stories. Step 2: Interview Teens We interviewed four teens who had experienced natural disasters (e.g., tornadoes, hurUsing Effective Communication Strategies to Help Teens Manage Stress After Natural Disasters Ed i tor ’s Not e : The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, NEHA features this column on environmental health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal. In these columns, authors from CDC’s Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch, as well as guest authors, will share tools, resources, and guidance for environmental health practitioners. The conclusions in these columns are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the oˆcial position of CDC. Traci Augustosky leads a team of writer-editors within the National Center for Environmental Health at CDC. Katherine MacKay is a health communication and research manager who leads CommunicateHealth teams in creating inclusive products that educate, inform, and empower various audiences. Sabrina Riera is a health communications specialist and Vivi Siegel is the lead for the emergency communications team within the National Center for Environmental Health at CDC. Kathleen Walker is a senior content strategist with CommunicateHealth who creates plain language health content that educates and inspires behavior change. Traci Augustosky Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Katherine MacKay, MPH CommunicateHealth Sabrina Riera, MPH Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vivi Siegel, MPH Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Kathleen Walker CommunicateHealth