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App and Website Link Teens and Providers to Health Resources

App and Website Link Teens and Providers to Health Resources

Adolescent medicine specialist Arik Marcell first heard about the San Francisco Adolescent Providers Guide while completing a medical fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. The simple health and community services handbook served as the go-to resource for health care professionals and teens alike.

Marcell was surprised to learn no similar guide for Baltimore, Maryland, existed when he moved there in 2001. As of November 2016, that’s no longer the case: With research and development help from the schools of medicine and public health, Marcell launched Y2CONNECT, an online guide for health and well-being services for young people.

Y2CONNECT consists of a website and mobile app with information gathered from roughly 250 local organizations on more than 50 topics. Teens, as well as health care professionals and parents seeking services for a teen, can find everything from clinics that offer STD testing or mental health treatment to organizations that arrange work apprenticeships.

“One of my clinical colleagues shared with me that they were searching for a crisis hotline, and our website was the first listing on Google with the site’s information,” says Marcell.

Y2CONNECT started in 2013 as a study on how to better engage adolescent males in their sexual and reproductive health. Funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, the project aims to develop a Baltimore-based online guide to health clinics. As Marcell realized many of the health resources for young men overlapped with those of young women, he ended up incorporating information for both.

Marcell worked with design firm Adapter to create the website and app, and he submitted the app through Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures to iTunes and Google Play. The app is available for free in English or Spanish for Android and iOS operating systems.

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