If “meeting” the health literacy standards outlined by those nerdy girls sounds like a daunting task, that’s because it is! But with collaboration and information sharing, this order becomes less overwhelming. In honor of the fact that health literacy matters every month of the year, we’re calling on the entire Nerd Girl community to actively participate in promoting health literacy in the spaces where they live, work, learn, and play. Specifically, what does this mean to you, especially if you are not a healthcare professional providing clinical information or services?
Parents, Guardians, and Older Siblings: Draw on the best practices established by educators for developing reading literacy in children and try turning everyday tasks into learning experiences for your child or younger siblings. Likewise, you can read bedtime stories with your children to encourage reading comprehension, encourage them to read nutrition labels on items you buy at the grocery store (this might just give the little ones something to do so you can shop in peace) . Involve children in food “experiments,” such as measuring the actual sugar content in certain drinks, cereals, and snacks. Sit down with your children and show them where and how to find safe, accurate information online. Simulate giving and receiving consent in any situation involving the body, including in a doctor’s office. No matter what creative approach you take, strive to lead by example and build a routine around these habits that is both visible and engaging for the children at home.
Teachers, staff: Children and young people may go through a range of physical and mental changes that can be confusing or isolating. There are a variety of ways that educators outside of healthcare can become outspoken and informed advocates for health literacy.
Community members: In any community, health literacy is influenced by a variety of information channels, from Facebook groups in your neighborhood and billboards posted along the highway to over-the-counter drug ads at your local pharmacy. Communicating your vision for a healthy community with neighbors, co-workers, local businesses, and loved ones—especially when it comes to how certain places and products are socially marketed among community members—is a good starting point for transforming access to good services. and health information where you live. As an extension of Media Literacy Week (October 23), suggest that your local community library host an age-appropriate workshop on appropriate health information seeking on the Internet, which can be a cost-effective but far-reaching And timely activity!
Employers: Providing workplace wellness events, external resources and advisory support is just the beginning for employers to be at the forefront of health literacy, but for other influential groups it is crucial they lead by example. Avoiding coming to work when sick (whether infected or not), providing healthy food options to employees at all levels of the organization, maintaining safe and clean working conditions, and normalizing a sustainable work-life balance are all ways to promote collective health. Cultural workplace. Not to mention that health literacy is closely tied to workers’ rights; appropriate compensation must include health care benefits such as counseling services and tailored health education resources.
Faith Leaders: Stigma and shame are the most elusive and harmful barriers to achieving health literacy. These things may be culturally common and cross-generational, but a large body of literature (see resources below) shows that people of faith are often very willing to accept health guidance from religious leaders because these leaders have dedicated their entire careers and Committed to cultivating community trust. If you are a faith leader, consider partnering with public health agencies in your area to promote healthy behaviors—from screening to mental health treatment. In every religious tradition, faith leaders are known for helping people make sense of the complex and sometimes contradictory aspects of what it means to be human. This means they have the ability to demonstrate that faith and science can not only coexist, but can dialogue with each other to nurture and protect the health of communities.
Not to mention the role that policymakers, researchers, and providers who specialize in health care must take on during their careers to advance and sustain health literacy in the communities they represent and serve…but that can be a question in and of itself. Great post! We’d love to hear how passionate folks in our Nerd Girl community are advocating for health literacy in small but important ways in their personal and professional lives. Health literacy is necessary for health equity. Like health equity, health literacy is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility.
Stay safe, stay healthy and fight the good fight!
those nerdy girls