Reducing STI Stigma

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Getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) or even worrying about getting an STI can be a stressful experience. However, getting an STI isn’t a moral failing any more than getting any other virus or bacteria. Sexual intimacy is a normal part of life for most people, and whether you’ve had sex one time or a thousand times, it is possible to get an STI.

You are not less important or less clean if you get an STI. What’s important is knowing your status by testing and understanding what to do with that information.

Take Charge of Your Health

An important part of reducing STI stigma is treating STIs like any part of your health. Empower yourself with knowledge about reducing risk, testing, and how STIs work.

If you are at risk of getting an STI, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk. This lets you take charge of your health without changing your lifestyle.

  1. Use barrier methods. When used correctly, both internal and external condoms are effective at preventing STIs. Internal condoms are inserted into the vagina, and external condoms are placed over the penis. No matter what kind of sex you are having, there are effective options for protecting yourself.
  2. Get tested regularly. Get tested each time you have a new partner and as recommended by your health care provider.
  3. Ask about PrEP. Are you at risk for HIV? Ask your provider about PrEP, the medication that protects you against getting HIV.

Talk About It!

Sexual health isn’t an individual matter. It’s important not only to test, but to communicate with each partner you have. Talk about the last time you got tested, your intent to test in the future, and any diagnoses that are relevant to your situation.

There are some STIs, for example, that cannot be cured that are important to discuss. Click here to hear directly from a myHealth Junior Board member’s experience with herpes and reducing the stigma that can come with it.

When other people talk about sexual health, listen to them! Telling our stories about sexual health is an important part of reducing stigma around STIs. Make yourself comfortable both sharing and receiving these stories. Even a little bit of communication makes a difference.

Get Tested

Getting Tested is Low-Stress at myHealth!

It’s easy to know your status. myHealth’s STI testing services are offered in a no-judgment environment that’s accessible to everyone in our age range.

If you need a routine screening, walk into the clinic and a nurse will help you.

You’ll check in with one of our front desk staff members, who will help you with paperwork and understanding your confidentiality. They will pass your information on to a nurse.

The nurse will take you back to a private room to discuss your current sexual health with you, helping you understand your risk of STIs, and decide which tests make sense for you. Next, you’ll go to the lab. You may leave a urine sample to be sent out to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. You may complete rapid HIV and syphilis tests, done via a quick and easy prick of your finger. In some cases, you may also swab your throat or rectal cavity to provide additional samples to test.

If you get rapid tests done, you’ll wait a few minutes for the results. If you do not, the nurse and front desk staff will wish you a great day!

What if I have Symptoms?

If you think you’ve been exposed to an STI or have a symptom of an STI or other condition related to your sexual organs, just call 952-474-3251 to schedule a visit with a health care provider who can help you.

When you visit one of our doctors or nurse practitioners, they will be able to test you for a wider variety of infections, including BV, trichomoniasis, yeast, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

They can also perform an exam to confirm whether your symptoms require treatment.

STIs are Treatable and Manageable

Many common STIs are easily treatable (e.g. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea); others are very manageable (e.g. HIV, Herpes). If you get an STI, don’t worry: your health care provider has seen many, many people have the same experience as you. They know how to help you!

If an STI test comes back positive, you’ll return to the clinic for treatment. At myHealth, treatment is simple and confidential. Even if you got tested somewhere else, you can come to myHealth for treatment without having to jump through extra hoops.

myHealth takes on STIs

Did you know one of the reasons myHealth was founded as West Suburban Teen Clinic back in 1972 was to combat a rise in gonorrhea in our community? We’ve been fighting STIs and STI stigma from the start!

STIs are like a lot of other viruses: they don’t discriminate, and they don’t like to go away. In the past twenty years, the most common STIs are all on the rise. Here’s a chart that shows a few of them.

myHealth is committed to educating young people about STIs, STI risk, and STI prevention. If you ever need zero-judgment care, you can count on myHealth for confidential and affordable services. Don’t know your status? We hope to help you know very soon!

5 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick this Winter

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With holiday season gatherings, spending more time indoors as temperatures drop, and the rise of respiratory illnesses, winters in Minnesota can be tough on the body! It is a great idea to take some extra steps to keeping yourself and your community safe. Here are five tools you can add to your repertoire to reduce the time you and your loved ones stay inside recovering from illnesses.

Washing Hands

Handwashing is a tool that we can use year-round to reduce the risk of illnesses… and winter is definitely a time to continue those practices! Effective handwashing typically lasts about 20 seconds.

Wearing a Mask

Wearing a well-fitting mask is still one of the most valuable ways to keep oneself and others safe from airborne respiratory illnesses. Some viruses can stay in the air like smoke for long periods of time, and by wearing a mask a person can limit how much of the shared air they breathe in.

N95 masks offer the most protection, but even a simple surgical mask can be effective in preventing infections.

Getting Vaccinated

It is not too late to get a flu shot, and we have them available at myHealth! It is also recommended that anyone get an updated COVID-19 vaccine. This isn’t a booster, but a new version of the vaccine that’s updated for the latest variants of COVID-19 such as XBB.1.5 and JN.1. If you were vaccinated before September 2023, it’s probably time to get an update! These updated vaccines reduce your chance of getting COVID-19 and reduces the severity of your symptoms if you do become infected with the virus.

Selective Exposure

If you are concerned about getting sick, consider limiting the number of events you attend. For example, if you’re counting down the days before a vacation, you might choose to cancel events or gatherings beforehand that involve exposure to many people.

Staying Home when Sick

Sometimes despite all our efforts, we still get sick. Whether it’s a sore throat, a runny nose, a fever, or a positive COVID-19 test, staying home when experiencing any illness is helpful for recovery, and respectful to your community. What is just a cold for one person could lead to serious illness in another. The quicker we are to stay home, the less likely it is to infect others. The more people who stay home when sick, the less like you are to get sick in return!


Not every method of reducing transmission of viruses may seem appropriate to your situation, but all of them are important tools to have ready to control the spread of illnesses. Your work of prevention doesn’t just benefit you, but the whole community. Immune-compromised, disabled, or otherwise vulnerable people have the most to lose to winter viruses and benefit greatly from our vigilance. If you have any questions about the transmissions of disease, you can always call myHealth at 952-474-3251 and ask to speak to a nurse.

Grateful, myHealth logo with leaves

Grateful in 2023

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To our Community,

As a friend of myHealth, you know the services we provide are unique and important:

  • myHealth is one of only three low-cost or no-cost clinics for adolescents in Minnesota and adolescents ages 18-23 are the single largest uninsured demographic. For more than 50 years, myHealth has ensured access to medical and dental services, mental health counseling, education outreach, parent services, and nurse home visits for pregnant and parenting teens.
  • myHealth never turns away anyone who is unable to pay for services and we are the only adolescent-focused community clinic in an area spanning 1,200 miles. Each year, myHealth gives away over $1,000,000 in care to young people in need.
  • The need for teen-centered mental health care has increased rapidly in the past few years. myHealth is the only adolescent clinic in our service area offering free and reduced fee mental health care, delivered by licensed therapists. myHealth screens each clinic client for mental health issues annually.
  • myHealth operates five days a week with both evening and Saturday hours to accommodate the needs of our clients and ensure easy access to care.

Each year, myHealth provides over 1,100 clients with low-cost medical services in over 4,200 visits. Our clients consistently report we meet their needs, and they feel welcomed and respected when seeing a myHealth healthcare provider. Annually in the community, our health educators present to more than 15,000 young people, adults working with youth, parents, and community partners and provide information on a wide variety of health topics critical to the ages we serve.

We cannot say thank you enough to the people who sponsor myHealth in any and every way. Your donation of time or money has enriched the lives of the young people who come to us in their moments of vulnerability and need.

If you are considering a year-end gift, click the donate button below.

With gratitude on behalf of our clients,

The Staff at myHealth for Teens & Young Adults


Gala 2023: Thank You!

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Thank you FOR MAKING THE gala a complete success!

Because of your generosity, we surpassed our goal of raising $100,000 at this year’s gala. Your contribution will provide access to services, treatment, and resources that young people in need otherwise couldn’t afford.

Vendors & Auction Donors

You stepped up for a good cause and gave us amazing items for our silent and live auction. Every year we are blown away by your generosity and creativity. THANK YOU!


Just by coming, you showed your commitment to the cause of providing health care and education to youth. Thank you for making our event so fun.


Thank you for participating in the live and silent auctions. The friendly battle of bidding was so much fun – and is going to make a genuine difference to myHealth and its clients.

Sponsors & Donors

Some of you chose to give above and beyond at the gala, and we were so humbled by your giving. Each donation is being invested directly into our work, and we couldn’t thank you enough.


We love ya, our dear volunteers! You make sure the night runs smoothly. It was so great to see returning volunteers and meet new ones excited to invest in myHealth’s mission. Your gift of time made a difference to us.

myHealth Staff

Our theme this year was myHealth Heroes. That’s you, myHealth staff! You choose to work at an organization that can’t pay you as much as a big healthcare system, but you decided this work was worth your time and passion. Thank you for all the amazing work you do to ensure that myHealth clients get all the care they need, whether it’s in the clinic, in the community, in a therapy session, or in the office. Thank you for being health care heroes; you are genuinely appreciated.

Discussing mental health and seeking help as a teen can be challenging

Discussing Mental Health and Seeking Help as a Teen

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The excitement of discovery of someone’s teen years is accompanied by struggle too. There are new skills to practice, new feelings to identify, and new information to process. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times!

Seeking help outside can feel difficult, but it can be an important step towards reclaiming control over your inner life. Let’s look at the symptoms of poor mental health and what you and trusted people in your life can do about it.

Understanding Your Mental Health: Identifying Signs and Symptoms

While each person’s experience with mental health is unique, there are common signs that can help you identify struggle.

Psychological signs: Pay attention to changes in your mood, such as persistent sadness, irritability, or extreme mood swings.

Physical signs: Anxiety and depression aren’t two simple feelings: nausea, faster breathing, aches and pains, poor sleep, changes in sex drive, changes in appetite, and restlessness are all symptoms to monitor.

Changes in behavior: Difficulties in concentration, withdrawal from activities you once enjoyed, or feelings of hopelessness are warning signs that something might be wrong.

What’s the Role of Our Environment?

Our environment plays a significant role in shaping our mental health. Big life changes can bring feelings of uncertainty and stress:

  • Moving
  • Starting at a new school
  • Financial struggles
  • Relationship problems
  • Medical conditions
  • Living with an addiction or with a person with addiction

Your struggles may stem from one of these problems or multiple problems at once. Regardless, it is okay to reach out for support for navigating your life and building coping skills to improve your mental health.

It’s also completely valid to reach out if you are experiencing none of these issues. Seeking the support of friends or professional help is not dependent on what’s happened to you. Trust your instincts and be honest about your feelings. If you are concerned, take action. Self-care can be an act of power!

Initiating Conversations About Mental Health

Let’s face it, it can be difficult to share deeply personal feelings that are positive, much less the feelings of deep struggle that accompanies a decline in mental health. But without getting past that initial barrier of speaking about your problem, the problem rarely gets better on its own. The great news is you are not alone. There are always people who can help.

Who Should You Talk to When Seeking Help as a Teen?

Identify trusted people in your life, such as friends, family, teachers, school counselors, or role models. Talk to them in a safe and private space.

Be Open And Honest

Approach the conversation honestly, sharing how you’ve been feeling and changes to your thoughts or behavior. Bravery is required to face something scary, and being vulnerable can definitely feel scary. Starting these discussions shows your resiliance. People who care about you will respect your honesty.

A young woman at the doctor's office

Building a Supportive Network: Seeking Help Outside Your Inner Circle

While reaching out to trusted friends and family members is great, seeking support beyond your close circle may also be necessary. Finding additional support systems can offer different perspectives and resources to help you on your mental health journey.

Explore avenues such as mental health hotlines, teen clinics, online communities, and support groups for teenagers. In addition, use the resources available in your school, such as counselors and psychologists, who can provide professional guidance and assistance.

Your supportive network is your safety net that understands and empathizes with your struggles. Including trusted professionals can be an important part of that safety network.

Navigating the Path to Help: Exploring Resources and Professional Support

Finding the right resources and seeking professional help is crucial for mental health. Start by exploring online platforms, mental health websites, and helplines that provide information, tools, and guidance.

But, if you need individual counseling, consider finding a qualified therapist who offers specialized support for teens. Learn about seeking professional help, from finding therapists to booking appointments, and be aware of any potential costs or insurance coverage.

Taking Care of You: Practical Self-Care for Mental Well-being

Prioritizing self-care is an integral part of maintaining good mental health. Adding self-care practices into your daily routine can reduce stress, enhance resilience, and improve overall well-being. So, what can you do?

Healthy Lifestyle

Regular physical activity, such as walking, yoga, or dancing, boosts your mood and reduces anxiety. A nutritious diet supports brain function and emotional well-being. Bolster your energy with good sleep hygiene, such as reducing screen time before bed, allowing enough time for sleep (8-10 hours for teens), keeping a consistent schedule, and avoiding large meals close to bedtime.

Express Yourself

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to promote a sense of calm. Journaling can provide an outlet for self-expression and reflection. Engage in hobbies or activities that bring you joy and give you a sense of fulfillment.

Be True to Yourself

Sometimes, you may have to set healthy boundaries and practice saying no when necessary to protect your mental and emotional energy. These coping strategies will enable you to manage stress better, build resilience, and foster a positive mindset for improved mental well-being.

Your Mental Health Matters: Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength

Discussing mental health and seeking help as a teen is challenging but crucial for taking control of your well-being. Don’t be afraid to break the silence and find the support you need. Value yourself, stay attuned to how you truly feel, and ask for help from your loved ones and professionals when needed. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and your mental health matters.

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