What is School Health?
- nursing and other health services that students need to stay in school,
nutritious and appealing school meals,
opportunities for physical activity that include physical education,
health education that covers a range of developmentally appropriate topics taught by knowledgeable teachers,
programs that promote the health of school faculty and staff, and
counseling, psychological and social services that promote healthy social and emotional development and remove barriers to students' learning.
For more information on school health programs, visit the web site of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Where can I get information
on health problems that affect children and youth?
The CDC web site includes survey data on health-related behaviors of high school students. The American School Health Association's peer-reviewed Journal of School Health publishes research on health issues of school-aged youth and presenters at the American School Health Annual Conference share research and effective programs for promoting students' health. In addition, ASHA publishes several books about school health issues (see ASHA Publications).
The National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, provides updated information about many health concerns in language appropriate for children, adults, and health professionals.
What are best practices in school health?
The American Cancer Society identified the basics of a high-quality school health program in a brochure Elements of Excellence. Those basic elements are:
- Active Leadership from school administrators, a school and community health council, and a school employee with responsibility for coordination.
- A Coordinated and Collaborative Approach overseen by a school health council, that sets priorities based on community needs and values, and that links with community resources.
- A Safe and Nurturing Learning Environment with supportive policies and practices, facilities that are hazard free, and consistent health-enhancing messages.
- A Commitment of Time, Personnel, and Resources.
One of ASHA's publications, the manual Promoting Healthy Youth, Schools, and Communities: A Guide to Community-School Health Councils, includes a full copy of the Elements of Excellence brochure and valuable information on establishing and maintaining a school health council.
The American School Health Association's Resolutions and the National Guidelines for Health, Mental Health, and Safety in Schools provide guidance about best practices related to many specific school health issues. The National Guidelines draw upon the work of many governmental agencies, voluntary health organizations, and professional associations that have reviewed the research literature to determine the most effective practices. The guidelines help schools find and make sense of the resources and guidance produced by these groups. The American School Health Association worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses to convene 13 expert panels that could condense all those guidance pieces and fill in the gaps to produce these National Guidelines.
Another excellent resource for implementing a coordinated school health program is the book Health Is Academic: A Guide to Coordinated School Health Programs.
Where can teachers find good health lessons?
Many textbook publishers produce health texts; some publishers exhibit at the American School Health Association's annual conference. In addition, several voluntary organizations such as the American Cancer Society have curricula, videos, and other materials.
All the strategies, activities, and services offered by, in, or in association with schools that are designed to promote students' physical, emotional, and social development make up a school's health program.
When a school works with students, their families, and their community to provide these strategies, activities, and services in a coordinated, planned way, then the term coordinated school health program applies. Ideally a coordinated school health program would include several, if not all, of the following: