Health Literacy and Health Education in Schools: Collaboration for Action

July 20, 2020 – Washington, D.C. – The National Academy of Medicine’s NAM Perspectives discussion paper calls for health literacy to become an integral part of health education nationwide.

The discussion paper outlines upstream and systems-level approaches to ensuring comprehensive health education, and also identifies a number of case studies and best practices that schools and educators can model.

The COVID-19 epidemic [10] dramatically demonstrates the need for children, as well as adults, to develop new and specific health knowledge and behaviors and calls for increased integration of health education with schools and communities.

The data shows that healthy students are better learners, but comprehensive and standardized health education in classrooms across the nation remains a challenge. Teaching students about their health can lead to improved individual healthy behaviors, as well as improved health for the community. Health literacy is a critical aspect of understanding health, but has not yet been systematically integrated into health education.

The paper is authored by M. Elaine Auld, MPH, MCHES is Chief Executive Officer, Society for Public Health Education. Marin P. Allen, PhD, is Deputy Associate Director, Office of Communications and Public Liaison and Director of Public Information, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (retired). Cicily Hampton, PhD, MPA, is Adjunct Assistant Research Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. J. Henry Montes, MPH, is former Chair, Public Health Education and Promotion Section, American Public Health Association. Cherylee Sherry, MPH, MCHES is Healthy Systems Supervisor, Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives, Minnesota Department of Health. Angela D. Mickalide, PhD, MCHES, is Vice President, Programs and Education, American College of Preventive Medicine. Robert A. Logan, PhD, is Senior Staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (retired) and Professor emeritus, University of Missouri-Columbia. Wilma Alvarado-Little, MA, MSW, is Associate Commissioner, New York State Department of Health and Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention. Kim Parson, BA, is Principal, KPCG LLC.

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