Applying B.E.S.T in school based wellness

The health and wellness industry is quickly becoming recognised worldwide as an effective tool in health promotion and improving health outcomes. Part of the reason is clearly the impact health and wellness has on learning outcomes.

Teachers are working hard to share lessons and build the knowledge, skills and habits but health needs of our youth are becoming complex. Chronic diseases among children are increasing and schools environments are not providing adequate support for health conditions. The mission of education and health are linked to offer children the chance to be happy, healthy and successful.

In this regard it is essential to understand that influencing learner’s health requires a more strategic and systematic rather than a trial and error approach. One essential component in influencing health is the B.E.S.T framework which can be applied by both school administrators and educators.

Behaviours - It is important to identify actions and every day habits of learners. Health habits are a construct of health attitudes which is described by the last letter T. Health actions and everyday habits include consumption of sugar, exercise or physical activity and any action which influences health. Understanding these behaviours can assist in structuring health intervention programs.

Emotions - Understanding emotional reactions to things that happen and mood states plays an essential component of health behaviour change. For example in designing health interventions for oral health in primary school learners in Gauteng we hired clowns to market the program and rewards in form of backpacks, pens and phones which assisted in making the program a success. 

Situations - Situations include medical, physical, cultural and access changes in circumstances. In low income settings financial impediments can be situations which hinder learners from accessing needed health services.

Thinking - Our learners in South Africa are exposed to a wide array of information on health issues and services. However it is essential to know their beliefs, attitudes, expectations and habitual thinking patterns.

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