The importance of health education

Feb 20, 2018 by

Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

Health education is resulting in a general improvement in public health across the country. From students to the elderly, health education promotes wellness and increases awareness of health care matters among the population. The following further explains the importance of health education and why it is so vital to communities.

Health education

The goal of health education is to raise awareness of common health issues in a population and guide communities toward healthier lifestyle choices. Public health educators work with members of the community to provide essential health information and to ensure equal access to healthcare.

Core issues that health education programs address typically include overcoming health disparities for certain racial or ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, genders, and individuals in rural areas who lack reasonable access to healthcare facilities.

Health educator approach

Health education programs do not look at individuals one by one like a physician, instead, health educators take the approach of tracking the most common health conditions within a group to address any issues or needs in the population as a whole.

Prevention and awareness

Health educators often focus on prevention and raising awareness of common chronic illnesses. Health education programs often share health tips that can prevent common health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The educators urge participants to eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly, and also give pertinent disease-prevention tips.

Grade school students

Health programs among grade school students are popular because they can help instill healthy habits at a young age. Reports show that students in health education programs are less likely to engage in unhealthy habits and high-risk behaviors, including drinking alcohol to excess, smoking, using drugs, unprotected sexual activity, poor diet, and more.

One report even found an unexpected but excellent benefit for students in the health education program. Health education leading to healthier students was found to provide the added bonus of higher comprehension in school subjects.

Maternal and child health

Health education programs aimed at pregnant women, infants, and children serve to ensure that women and children are able to maintain optimal health and healthy development.

Health educators typically remind pregnant women that avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, taking prenatal vitamins, drinking fluids, and eating a healthy diet are essential for their own health and that of their growing baby.

It is also vital to raise awareness about pregnancy anxiety and post-partum depression. Mothers having such problems are advised to seek proper treatment, which sometimes includes counseling, medication, and support from other women going through the same thing. When mothers have access to such services, they experience a better quality of life and can care for their children more effectively.

Vision and eye health

Getting your annual eye exam is something that many people don’t think about until they need glasses or contact lenses, but studies show that there is an increased need for eye care, especially among children.

An ophthalmologist named Dr. Rohit Varma conducted eye disease studies in children across ethnic groups. Varma’s Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study, or MEPEDS, is considered the largest nationally recorded eye disease study of children. From the research, he established that childhood myopia has more than doubled in the last half century.

Studies like that reinforce the importance of medical researchers and health educators who take a closer look at current health trends, especially among the most vulnerable groups like children, and take action to make their lives better.

Mental health and abuse prevention

Health education professionals consider mental and emotional health to be an important aspect of overall well-being. Mental health issues, like depression, can interfere with the quality of life just as much as a physical health problem. Early intervention and awareness that health educators seek to provide can increase a person’s chances of getting treatment and may prevent the issue from progressing.

Abuse prevention and support for abuse victims typically has a mental health component, but providing specific information to susceptible groups can make all the difference. When health educators provide an abuse victim with information on how to seek help and shelter, it can even save lives.

Tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse

Many trained individuals are working hard to prevent substance abuse and addiction. With issues like the growing opioid crisis, such work is essential in promoting preventative measures and information.

Programs that inform the public about the potential harm of smoking, and second-hand smoke, work to save lives and prevent chronic illnesses, like asthma and emphysema. Information and support can reduce instances of alcohol addiction, thereby decreasing the incidence of conditions like liver disease, and often it can prevent alcohol related domestic violence that can affect entire families. When health educators work to prevent drug abuse they can save lives and subsequently decrease cases of child neglect caused by addiction.

Without health education, we would see an increase in chronic illness, maternal and pediatric health issues, untreated mental health problems, alcohol addiction, and drug abuse. That is why health education is essential to our healthcare system.

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1 Comment

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    Deanna Thurman

    Thank you so much for this post. It has helped me to understand the important role that health education plays in ensuring the general wellbeing and stability of a community.

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