Explain the mutual benefits of health education programmes to the individual, family and community

Definition of health education

According to McKinze, Neiger and Thackeray (2009), health education is a profession of educating people about health. Areas within this profession encompass physical health, social health, emotional health, intellectual health, and spiritual health.

Health education was also defined by Donatelle (2009) as the principle by which individuals and groups of people, learn to behave in a manner conducive to the promotion, maintenance, or restoration of health. It is referred to as any combination of planned learning experiences based on sound theories that provide individuals, groups, and communities the opportunity to acquire information and the skills needed to make quality health decisions.”  The World Health Organization (1998) defined Health Education as “comprising of consciously constructed opportunities for learning involving some form of communication designed to improve health literacy, including improving knowledge, and developing life skills which are conducive to individual and community health.”

Overview on health education programme

Health education programmes are designed towards assisting individuals families and communities in preventing and changing negative health behaviours and health outcomes that are linked to disease, disability and poor quality of life. The programmes are planned by professional with specialized skills in planning, implementing and evaluating community programs that focus on negative health issues such as smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, unprotected sexual activity, youth violence, inactivity, eating disorders, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, safety and stress (Simons-Morton, Greene & Gottlieb, 2005)

Health education programmes referred to Bundy and Guya (1996) as programmes designed to develop a discrete body of knowledge, defined competencies for individuals and code of ethics, Health education programmes are generally aligned with the behavioural and social sciences as one of the core dimensions of public health study and practice by drawing from theories and models from education, health studies, communications, and other diverse areas. The unique combination of these knowledge areas forms the basis for health education competencies. Health educators employ a core set of competencies, regardless of the diverse practice settings in which they work (i.e., schools, universities, health departments, community-based organizations, health-care settings, worksites, and international organizations). The major areas of health education programmes are based on assessing, planning, implementing, managing, and evaluating health education or health promotion programs, services, and interventions. Health education programmes help in the fight for social justice and believe that the health of a population should be a priority in any society.

Benefits of health education programmes to the individuals

Health education programmes are of immense benefits to the individuals. Some of the benefits of health education programmes to the individuals as identified by Joint Committee on Terminology (2001) are:

  1. Health education programmes helps individuals by motivating them with whatever interests they may have in improving their living conditions.
  2. Health education programmes help individuals to develop a sense of responsibility for health conditions for themselves as individuals, as members of families, and as communities.
  3. In communicable disease control, health education programmes commonly includes an appraisal of what is known by an individual about a disease, an assessment of habits and attitudes of the individual as they relate to spread and frequency of the disease, and the presentation of specific means to remedy observed deficiencies.
  4. Health education programmes are also effective tools that help to improve health not only by teaching prevention and basic health knowledge but also conditions ideas that re-shape everyday habits of people with unhealthy lifestyles. This type of conditioning not only affects the immediate recipients of such education but also future generations will benefit from an improved and properly cultivated ideas about health that will eventually spread health education.
  5. Health education programmes can also provide more aid and help people deal healthier with situations of extreme stress, anxiety, depression or other emotional disturbances to lessen the impact of these sorts of mental and emotional constituents, which can consequently lead to detrimental physical effects.

Benefits of health education programme to the family

Health education programmes help to directly inform families. To can lead to enduring practices adopted by both families and health professionals. Health education programmes helps to create awareness on wellness and prevention among family members. The benefits of health education programmes to the family according to Joint Committee on Terminology (2001) include:

  • Promoting family support
  • Promoting healthy child development
  • Promoting mental health
  • Promoting healthy weight
  • Promoting healthy nutrition
  • Promoting physical activity
  • Promoting oral health
  • Promoting healthy sexual development and sexuality Promoting safety and injury prevention

Promoting family support: Health education programmes help to promote family support with a wide range of activities that strengthen positive informal social networks through community based programmes and services.  The main focus of these services is on early intervention aiming to promote and protect the health, well-being and rights of all children, young people and their families. At the same time particular attention is given to those who are vulnerable or at risk. Family support programmes are for families and individuals who need help. Family life is not always easy. Life events like birth, death, depression, redundancy, separation, illness, abuse or financial problems all put stress and strain on family life and relationships. These programmes simply provide an avenue to have someone to talk to about your problem can be the easiest way to begin to deal with the problem (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting healthy child development: Health education programmes lays emphasis on the fact that the early child period is the most important developmental phase throughout the lifespan. The programmes are planned in a way to include the physical, social/emotional, and language/cognitive domains of development, each equally important—strongly influences well-being, obesity/stunting, mental health, heart disease, competence in literacy and numeracy, criminality, and economic participation throughout life (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting mental health: Promoting mental health involves through health education programmes involves promoting emotional wellness and mental health. Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting healthy weight: Health education programmes helps the family in promoting healthy weight through awareness on how to avoid overweight and obesity as well as measures to prevent underweight (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting healthy nutrition: Health education programmes helps in promoting healthy food and eating habits with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, etc (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting physical activity: Health education programmes are designed to promoting physical activity as a way of life. Physical activity can be healthful in the following ways:

  1. Increase cardiovascular endurance: More people die from heart dis­ease than any other ailment; regular physical activity can help protect against heart problems. Exercise can improve your fitness, make him feel bet­ter, and strengthen his cardiovascular system.
  2. Improve large muscle strength and endurance: Modified sit-ups (knees bent, feet on the ground) can build up ab­dominal muscles, increase lung capacity, and protect against back injuries. For upper body strength, he can perform modified pull-ups (keeping the arms flexed while hanging from a horizontal bar) and modified push-ups (position­ing the knees on the ground while extending the arms at the elbow).
  3. Increase flexibility: For complete physical fitness, children need to be able to twist and bend their bodies through the full range of normal motions with­out overexerting themselves or causing injury. When children are flexible like this, they are more agile.
  4. Reduce stress. Unmanaged stress can cause muscle tightness, which can con­tribute to headaches, stomachaches, and other types of discomfort. Exercise is one of the best ways to control stress. A physically ac­tive individual is less likely to experience stress-related symptoms than his more sedentary peers.

Promoting oral health: Oral health is essential to general health and quality of life. It is a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting healthy sexual development and sexuality: Health education programmes helps in promoting healthy sexuality may include an ability to integrate sexuality into one’s daily life, as opposed to it being some external event that occurs on its own. It may include components of affection, tenderness, and companionship between two people. In an ongoing sexual relationship, both partners should be aware of the important role that sex plays in their lives. While it is important not to make sex an exaggerated area of focus, it is certainly important to recognize sexuality as a natural part of being human. Humans are naturally, sexual creatures. Healthy and natural sexuality should also include an acceptance of our animal nature and a positive attitude toward our bodies, our nudity, and our sexual urges. Healthy sexuality has also been suggested to include components of communication and acceptance of love, expressing emotion and giving and receiving pleasure, having the ability to enjoy and control sexual and reproductive behavior without feelings of guilt, fear, or shame (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Promoting safety and injury prevention: Safety and Injury prevention is an effort to prevent or reduce the severity of bodily injuries caused by external mechanisms, such as accidents, before they occur. Safety and injury prevention is a component of safety and public health, and its goal is to improve the health of the population by preventing injuries and hence improving quality of life. Among laypersons, the term “accidental injury” is often used (Joint Committee on Terminology, 2001).

Benefits of health education programmes to the community

The benefits of health education programmes to the community in health promotion according to McKenzie, Neiger and Thackery (2009) can be outlined into seven areas of responsibilities which are:

  • Assessing individual and community needs for health education
  • Plan health education strategies, interventions, and programs
  • Implement health education strategies, interventions, and programs
  • Conduct evaluation and research related to health education
  • Administer health education strategies, interventions, and programs
  • Serve as a health education resource person
  • Communicate and advocate for health and health education
  1. Assessing individual and community needs for health education: Health education provides the foundation for programme planning, determines what health problems might exist in any given groups, includes determination of community resources available to address the problem, encourages the population to take ownership of their health problems and ensures careful data collection and analysis (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  2. Plan health education strategies, interventions, and programs: Carries out health needs assessment for the community, development of goals and objectives which are specific and measurable and develop interventions that meet health goals and objectives (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  3. Implement health education strategies, interventions, and programs: Implementation is based on a thorough understanding of the priority population and utilize a wide range of educational methods and techniques (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  4. Conduct evaluation and research related to health education: Depending on the setting, utilize tests, surveys, observations, tracking epidemiological data, or other methods of data collection and health educators make use of research to improve their practices (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  5. Administer health education strategies, interventions, and programs: Administration is generally a function of the more experienced practitioner and involves facilitating cooperation among personnel, both within and between programs (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  6. Serve as a health education resource person:Involves skills to access needed resources, and establish effective consultative relationships (McKenzie et al.,2009).
  7. Communicate and advocate for health and health education: Translates scientific language into understandable information, address diverse audience in diverse settings, formulates and support rules, policies and legislation, and advocate for the profession of health education (McKenzie et al.,2009).

Different health education programmes

Health  education programmes comes in different forms depending the need of the individuals, families and communities involved. Some of the health education programmes as highlighted by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2007) are:

  • Fitness programmes
  • Healthy alcohol usage programmes
  • Injury prevention programmes
  • Blood pressure control programmes
  • Child health and development
  • Cholesterol screening programmes
  • Communication system-newsletters, videotapes, mailing system inserts in pay envelopes, bulletin board
  • Drug counseling programmes
  • First aid training programmes
  • Healthy school environment
  • Health education curriculum
  • School food nutrition services
  • Health Services
  • Physical education
  • Counseling, guidance and mental health services
  • Worksite health promotion
  • Family, school and community partnerships
  • School health nursing and comprehensive school health programs

Fitness programmes: These are programmes planned  to help individuals in the society to improve their health and physical condition.  Fitness programmes are designed to promote a general state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities. Fitness is generally achieved through proper nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical exercise, and sufficient rest. Fitness is defined as the quality or state of being fit. It described either a person or machine’s ability to perform a specific function or a holistic definition of human adaptability to cope with various situations. Examples of some of the fitness programmes carried out in health education programmes includes aerobic fitness, dance, exercise, high impact, aerobic swimming, etc. (CDC, 2007)

Healthy alcohol usage programmes: Health education programmes are designed to prevent and reduce alcohol-related problems among employees have considerable potential. The programmes are geared towards influencing people to get help for an alcohol problem(CDC, 2007)

Injury prevention programmes: These programmes are design to educate people on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent injuries (CDC, 2007)

Blood pressure control programmes: These are programmes designed to control blood pressure of individuals in the community through healthy eating habits, exercise and stress management strategies (CDC, 2007)

Child health and development: Health education programmes lays emphasis on the fact that the early child period is the most important developmental phase throughout the lifespan. The programmes are planned in a way to include the physical, social/emotional, and language/cognitive domains of development, each equally important—strongly influences well-being, obesity/stunting, mental health, heart disease, competence in literacy and numeracy, criminality, and economic participation throughout life (CDC, 2007)

Cholesterol screening programmes: These are health education programmes designed to determine the cholesterol level of people in a given community and to also encourage people to imbibe habits to enhance healthy cholesterol level (CDC, 2007)

Communication system-newsletters, videotapes, mailing system inserts in pay envelopes, bulletin board: These are programmes dedicated to create awareness through the use of bulletins, videotapes, handbills and the mass media (CDC, 2007)

Drug counseling programmes: These are programmes to counsel people on substance abuse. This refers to the habitual use of a mind altering substance, whether it’s alcohol or drugs. Although most substance abusers may find that they are seemingly blessed with a number of positive side effects of these substances, the reality is that these substances are ultimately very harmful. For instance, these substances not only harm a person’s body, but they can also fracture their soul. Abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs will often inflict a person’s mind as well. A person suffering from substance abuse will usually not act like himself. For instance, a person that is normally mild tempered could possibly become violent under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why a person might abuse alcohol or drugs, and some of these reasons may be extremely powerful. Some may abuse drugs or alcohol because they are looking for a way to escape from their realities, for instance. Others may abuse alcohol or drugs because they’re trying to fit in with their peers. Unfortunately, no matter why people experiment with drugs or alcohol, there is a chance that they will become dependent upon them. Substance abuse counseling, however, is a type of counseling that can be used to help people overcome and conquer dependencies on substances, such as alcohol and drugs (CDC, 2007).

First aid training programmes: These are training programmes to train people on how to give assistance given person suffering a sudden illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, and/or promote recovery. It includes initial intervention in a serious condition prior to professional medical help being available. First aid is generally performed by the layperson, with many people trained in providing basic levels of first aid, and others willing to do so from acquired knowledge. Mental health first aid is an extension of the concept of first aid to cover mental health (CDC, 2007).

Healthy school environment: A “safe” school is a school that promotes personal growth, healthy interpersonal relationships with fellow students and staff, wellness and freedom from discrimination and abuse. The child who does not worry about safety is in a position to grow, learn and explore their world. The community, school, parents and business must work together to develop policies and procedures that assure that a healthy school environment is created and children are protected. Specific examples of guidelines to follow for a health school environment include establishing emergency procedures for bomb scares, drug-related situations, gang member disruptions, emergency communications, tobacco use, universal precautions for handling blood and other body fluids, sanitation, playground safety, attractiveness of school, etc. (CDC, 2007).

Health education curriculum: Health Education provides each child with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to make and practice health decisions that are best for them. Successful planning of a school health education program requires active community involvement to ensure that the community’s expectations and concerns are addressed the school health education curriculum. Together, the community and school develop a school health education program which reflects the culture of the community and is sensitive to the needs of the child and their family. A quality health education program includes a sequential curriculum spanning pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. A health education curriculum that supports a vision of health children is the first step toward helping all students develop their own best personal growth. To be considered as a comprehensive health education curriculum, the following issues would be addressed by a comprehensive curriculum: two to three hours of instructions weekly in each elementary grade, two semesters of health education at the high school level, routine health education in service to strengthen teachers’ skills, a curriculum that is sequentially based, and includes the Ten content areas of health education, etc. (CDC, 2007)

School food nutrition services: Nutrition plays a vital role in the child’s ability to learn. Children need the support of the comprehensive nutrition and services. The comprehensive school health model supports a sound student nutrition program of wholesome and enjoyable foods in the cafeteria and throughout the school. Good nutrition also includes positive nutrition education provided by staff and parents. In the classroom, nutrition can be used as a tool for teaching math, science, reading and languages. In service nutrition education for food service personnel, funding raising activities involve only health foods, classroom instruction on nutrition are among only a few of the guidelines followed by a comprehensive school health program (CDC, 2007).

Health services: School health services include: fluoridation, development of student health records, mental health services, counseling, speech therapy, well-child physicals and dental exams; immunizations; physical development screenings; eye exams, treatment of health problems, and; prevention and control of disease. Health Services are delivered by such people as school nurses and school psychologists. Comprehensive school health services are identified at each school (CDC, 2007).

Physical education: The mind and body are not separated in a comprehensive school health program. Physical education should be promote and provide opportunities for children to develop lifelong fitness habits. Physical education provides all students the opportunity to develop movement skills, to increase muscle strength and flexibility, to improve their aerobic endurance and maintain a healthy body weight. Physical Education develops confidence and skills. By providing outlets for stress, developing goals and decision-making skills and emphasizing self-confidence and personal discipline, children gain a positive sense of self-worth. Components of a comprehensive physical education program include daily participation by all students in physical education, at least 50% of PE class time is spent in physical activity, teachers have curriculum that is sequentially developed by grade and developmental level of students, all PE teaching have teaching certification in physical education, teachers are trained in adaptive physical education, at least 70% of the physical education classroom time in upper grades is devoted to lifetime physical education activities (CDC, 2007).

Counseling, guidance and mental health services: A school counseling program provides prevention and intervention programs, career awareness and skill building tools for success in work, relationships and life. Professional staff within the school counseling program provide: early detection of potential problems, identification of at “risk” children and programs and referrals which support children and their families. School-based counseling and personal support to students would include in-service education on the students’ culture, support of life skills training for students in health classes, working with families regarding special health needs of the students, providing leadership on school-wide mental and emotional health promotion programs (CDC, 2007).

Worksite health promotion: Nurturing the skills and potential of a child requires teachers and all school staff to be wellness promoters themselves. “Heal thyself.” School staff serve as role models, they actions and words have tremendous influence over a child’s health behaviors. The Comprehensive School Health Model promotes the involvement of school staff in their own personal wellness. We encourage the school staff to participate in activities such as stress management, smoking cessation, nutrition classes, exercise and positive support programs. Examples of “worksite” wellness for the staff include providing healthy food choices for teachers and staff, providing an environment free of alcohol and other drugs, providing a smoke free environment, sponsoring weight control classes for staff, and offering self-improvement classes for staff (CDC, 2007).

Family, school and community partnerships: In a village everyone works together to create harmony, maintain balance and assure general good health. A child is ready to learn and to be healthy when everyone, their family, the school and community works together to support their growth. The Comprehensive school Health Model encourages partnerships between the school, family, and community. The purpose of these partnerships is to coordinate and activate all possible health and education resources. School health councils which include members from the community, local businesses and the medical profession can serve as a means for developing partnerships and improving the health of students. What describes your school’s current efforts on following activities to promote partnerships for healthy development of your students: sharing information with collaborating tribal and community agencies, teachers routinely visiting student’s homes, parent involvement in the school? These are just some of the many ways in which we encourage a partnership between the school, the family and the community (CDC, 2007).

School health nursing and comprehensive school health programs: School nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well being, academic success, and life-long achievement of students. To that end, school nurses facilitate positive student responses to normal development; promote health and safety; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self management, self advocacy, and learning (CDC, 2007).

Rationale of health education programmes

According to Patterson and Vitello (2006), several situation requires the inputs of health education to ensure the overall health situation of a particular group of person. These include:

  • They are established for the fact that most health problems are primarily related to individual and group behaviors and lifestyles.  Health education professionals staffs are position to address fully those health problems that mainly requires of continuous promotional health activities.  In other words, maintenance of healthful life and prevention of diseases in a society demands for professionals who can apply theories and models of effective communication for behavior change in a desired direction.
  • In addition to the existing major health problems, the newly emerged HIV/AIDS could not be tackled in any other way than equipping every citizen with the necessary knowledge of route of transmission & prevention mechanisms and motivating people to enforce those remedies.  These actions require a wide range of activities including educational diagnosis, planning, implementation and monitoring of every steps all of which need to be done by a visionary specialist in the field.
  • In most of the cases, health education and promotion is carried out by member of health personnel who are neither trained in health education and promotion nor committed to full time job of this service. This would hamper the handling and curving of the rising level of health problems that need to be addressed qualitatively to bring about basic behavioral change. In other saying, in a nutshell, health education and promotion programs have been established on the basis of limited research and implemented with little or no proper needs assessment in our country.
  • To this effect, many programs seem to be established with poorly conceived, planned, and too frequently with unrealistic objectives, and with no effective mechanism for management, quality control or monitoring. Therefore, there is a need for changing this gloomy picture by producing high caliber researchers and managers to ensure a sound and substantial improvement in the practices of health education and promotion.
  • The importance of having high caliber health education and promotion specialists is not only to curve health problems related with lifestyles and environmental modification, but it is important to further strengthen the existing health for better quality of life.
  • Above all, Health Education is a profession like any other and it cannot be practiced in another profession. It is true medical staffs have bits here and there of health education but they are not health educators as such. Just as we are not agriculturists by the fact that we know how to plant crops or keep farm animals. Therefore, there is need for a specific person to be trained and charged with the onus of doing Health Education and Promotion.

Differences of the programmes of health education as it relates to individuals, family and the community

According to Coalition for Health Education Organisation Code of Ethics (2009) health education programmes are structured in a way to benefit the individuals, family and the community involved. These differences can be classified as shown in the table below

1 Planned for a single person Planned for a small group of persons Planned with a large number of people in mind
2 The uniqueness of the individuals is considered Try to get people to get alone through persuasion Social mobilization strategies are important for effectiveness
3 Easy to arrange and strategies can be amended immediately More challenging to arrange and amendments take a study of the people involved. One initiated, amendment may be viewed as double-standard

(Source: CDC, 2007)


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