why is health education important?

Health education promotes learners' knowledge, skills and positive attitudes about health. Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It motivates learners to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease and reduce risky behaviours. Health care is necessary but not sufficient in the face of determinants such as education: even where health care is guaranteed, people with limited education tend to be sicker.

As communities continue to focus more on improving the health and well-being of their citizens, the field of community health education will also continue to grow, said SNHU associate professor Michelle Gifford. The Health Sciences programme prepares dedicated students to assess, identify, organise and implement individual- and community-focused health education programmes. Whatever the context, for a health education programme to be effective it must be theory and evidence-based and tailored to the target population based on specific risk factors, available resources and cultural sensitivities. The Center on Society and Health (CSH) worked with members of Engaging Richmond, a community-academic partnership that included residents of the East End, a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Richmond, Virginia.

People with more education are more likely to learn about health and health risks, improving their literacy and understanding of what can be complex issues critical to their well-being. The National Sexuality Education Standards outline the foundational knowledge and skills students need to navigate sexual development and become sexually healthy adults. Several studies have suggested that income is among the main reasons for the superior health of those with advanced education. Adults with more education tend to experience less economic hardship, achieve greater job prestige and social status, and enjoy greater access to resources that contribute to better health.

Health education tends to be most effective when it is delivered by qualified teachers, connects students to health services, involves parents and community partners, and fosters positive relationships between adolescents and the adults who are important to them. Private companies can provide health education to workers to prevent injuries and ensure a healthy work environment. Programmes designed to help community members combat these costly health problems not only improve the health of individuals, but also provide a strong return on investment for communities. African Americans experienced a comparable increase in the health gap by education during this time period.

Erika Ossenfort
Erika Ossenfort

Hipster-friendly food fan. Professional pop culture advocate. Freelance internet ninja. Devoted web fan. Extreme music evangelist.

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