What is School Health?

School Health is the comprehensive efforts of developing, implementing, and evaluating services, both within the school and the community, that provide each and every student with the resources needed to thrive within a healthful environment. School Health initiatives should work to promote inclusive environments in which students can learn together about, and develop, healthy behaviors overtime.

School Health Services Include (but not limited to)
  • Nursing and Other Health Services
  • Health Education
  • Physical Education
  • Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services
  • Nutrition and Appealing School Lunches

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of nine school health guidelines. These guidelines are intended to provide schools with a foundation that can be used to develop, implement, and evaluate programs and services promoting social and emotional development while breaking down barriers to education within a healthful environment.

CDC 9 School Health Guidelines
  1. Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
  2. School Environments
  3. Quality School Meal Programs
  4. Comprehensive Physical Activity Programs
  5. Health Education
  6. Health, Mental Health and Social Services
  7. Partner with Families and Community Members
  8. School Employee Wellness Program
  9. Certified and Qualified Staff

To learn more about the CDC School Health Guidelines, as well as strategies to accomplish each one, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC Healthy Schools: School Health Guidelines Webpage.

Current Best Practices in School Health

According to research published in the Journal of School Health, school health programs that incorporate social skills training in combination with health education have demonstrated, along with parent and teacher training, and school-wide climate change, evidence supporting increased academic outcomes among students who participated (Murray, Low, Hollis, Cross, & Davis, 2007). In addition, the American Cancer Society has identified four basic elements that should be included in high-quality school health programs:

  1. Active leadership from school administrators, a school and community health council, and a school employee with responsibility for coordination.
  2. 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.
  3. A safe and nurturing learning environment with supportive policies and practices, facilities that are hazard free, and consistent health-enhancing messages.
  4. A commitment of time, personnel, and resources.