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Everything You Need to Know About National Health Education Week

Most of us try to live healthier lives, but we don't always know how.

That's why health education is so important. Communities with strong health education services have fewer chronic illnesses and lower rates of obesity and substance abuse.

So we are joining together to celebrate National Health Education Week from October 19th to the 23rd. 

Not sure what National Health Education Week is all about? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What Is National Health Education Week?

The goal of National Health Education Week (NHEW) is to raise awareness about important public health issues.

Examples of public health issues or concerns include nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, as well as heart disease and tobacco use.

These are some of the areas that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has deemed especially important for our communities. 

Learning about the causes and effects of public health problems can help reduce lasting harm and promote health equity. 

Throughout NHEW there are resources you can use to become more educated and get your community involved. NHEW is a time to reflect on how important public health is to the overall happiness and success of your fellow human beings.

Who knows, maybe NHEW will even inspire you to volunteer to provide health education as a community health educator or ambassador!

You can also look at NHEW materials from previous years to learn more about the types of topics that will be discussed.

Why Is Health Education So Important?

Health education is more than just learning about proper diet and exercise. It addresses physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Health educators provide information, but they also provide resources and advocacy. This is particularly important for those communities that do not have access to good health care services.

These educators work in various settings, but the goal is the same — to teach behaviors that promote health and wellness.

They may work on a one-on-one basis or work with entire communities or government organizations. 

Health education programs allow individuals and communities to learn to advocate for themselves.

Local and federal laws and policies affect community health, so health education is also a way of encouraging citizens to support and vote for those laws that will allow their communities to thrive.

Even a community's economy is affected by health education. If people are healthier they spend less money on healthcare services and have more savings. They can then use this money to support businesses and further educational resources for others. 

A healthier population also means less sick days and more productive work hours which benefits everyone. Obesity and tobacco-related issues are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to productivity loss. 

Health education is also about equality and equal access to health services. People often forget that health stretches beyond just preventing illness.

A healthy person in a healthy community relies on feeling safe, accepted, and happy. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Health education acknowledges that and addresses all areas of health.

Investing time and money into programs like NHEW reminds people how important health education is. It provides much-needed awareness for health education and health education specialists.

Who Is Hosting National Health Education Week?

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has been hosting NHEW for 25 years!

SOPHE is a nonprofit association made up of almost 4,000 health education professionals in the US and abroad.

SOPHE members work in different health-related settings including schools, volunteer organizations, health care facilities, and even government agencies.

Their mission is to promote healthy behaviors, communities, and environments for everyone.

Click here if you want to learn more about SOPHE or become a part of the professional group. 

How Does the National Health Education Week Work?

Each day between October 19th and 23rd there will be a new health topic. There will also be activities and/or webinars for each topic.

You can access the materials and webinars for FREE!

Here are this year's daily topics:

Monday: Health Equity and Racism Elimination: Advocating for Change 

Tuesday: Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Wednesday: Mental Health & Mindfulness

Thursday: Health Literacy: Words Matter

Friday: Career Settings for a Health Education/Promotion Specialist

This year there will be a large focus on health education as it relates to COVID-19. A webinar will be hosted about mental health and well-being during the pandemic and another webinar will feature individuals that are working on the front lines.

It's sure to be an exciting week with great content each day. 

National Health Education Week Logistics

You don't have to be great with computers to access the materials for NHEW. You can start by visiting the SOPHE NHEW site

Then, take a look at the activities for each day of NHEW and decide which you would like to participate in.

You can locate the webinars from the SOPHE site during the time indicated. 

If you want to become even more involved with SOPHE and receive information from them beyond NHEW, you can sign up to be a member too!

If you have any questions or concerns about accessing the material, you can contact SOPHE directly. 

Other Public Health Initiatives 

There are a few other great health initiatives that you can learn about and participate in.

For example, October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. Donate your time or money to one of the many charitable organizations fighting this issue.

Find one of the many national health holidays and find a creative way to celebrate!

Get Involved!

There are tons of great ways to get involved in the world of health education even beyond National Health Education Week.

Share this article or the resources from the NHEW toolkit with family, friends, and other community members to gain more attention for this awesome cause.

And remember that health education is not just important one day of the year, but every day.

If you're eager to help out, check out ways you can get involved, or make a donation via our website. 

Elena Burr