How do social workers support healthy lifestyles in schools?
Social workers are key team members in many sectors and play a vital role in assisting the most vulnerable individuals in society. Education is one industry where they play a particularly prominent role, with school social workers contributing significantly to help their institutions better serve students. Although this can involve helping students who are dealing with bullying, learning difficulties or mental health problems, it can also see them taking time to support healthy lifestyles in their facility.
As with the other major responsibilities school social workers cover, supporting healthy lifestyles has a direct and very positive impact on students. As a result, many individuals who are interested in helping young people choose school social work as a career.
Here is a look at how you can become a social worker and promote healthy lifestyles in schools.
Education is required to move into school social work
To become a school social worker, obtaining certain educational and licensing requirements is crucial. Most people begin by completing a Bachelor of Social Work program before moving on to a higher-level Master of Social Work.
The online Master of Social Work program at Keuka College is a popular, CSWE-accredited option. With a range of modules that teach students everything they need to know when preparing to move into school social work, this program is ideal for any aspiring social worker in education.
Once the right qualifications have been obtained, many aspiring school social workers pursue licensure to work in clinical settings. This involves taking the Association of Social Work Boards exam to become a licensed clinical social worker.
Social workers and healthy lifestyles in schools
Among the key responsibilities of school social workers, one that stands out for its potential impact on students is supporting healthy lifestyles. Here is a look at some of the ways school social workers can highlight healthier lifestyle choices.
Health education programs
One of the major ways school social workers support healthy lifestyles is by running health education programs. This involves identifying health issues that have become common among students and need to be addressed. Health education programs may also be used to provide general information to students about certain issues or as part of local or national health initiatives.
At this stage, social workers may collaborate with healthcare professionals to pin down the guidance that schools should issue and discuss the best ways to approach it, such as via talks in the classroom or posters displayed around the school.
Healthy eating habits
Social workers in education can also support healthier lifestyles in schools by promoting healthy eating habits. This usually involves talking to students and their families about healthy eating and why they should focus on it. For example, a school social worker who notices that a student is always too tired to perform well in class may choose to speak to them about how eating more fruit and vegetables could give them extra energy.
Social workers can also promote healthy eating habits by providing information to students and explaining the benefits of healthy vending machines and other measures to school principals.
Promoting physical education
The latest childhood obesity statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that around 19.7% of children in the US were classified as obese. Although this is just one condition that unhealthy lifestyles can cause in young people, it demonstrates why social workers in education need to focus on health.
One way social workers can help support healthier lifestyles in schools to tackle issues like obesity is through the promotion of physical education. Although this is usually a part of the school curriculum anyway, social workers can speak to students about the importance of regular exercise.
In addition, social workers in schools might encourage students to participate in sports after school and explain how to make exercise a part of their life outside of school.
Promoting healthy patterns of sleep
It is recommended that school-aged children get around 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. In addition, it is important to maintain a constant schedule for sleep that sees kids going to bed and getting up around the same time each day.
This is something that only some families are aware of, and many struggle to achieve optimal sleep. By explaining what a healthy sleep pattern looks like and providing tips on improving sleep habits, school social workers can boost healthy lifestyles in their facility.
Why is promoting healthy lifestyles in school important for social workers?
Promoting healthy lifestyles for school social workers helps unlock each student’s full potential and leads to better academic performance. A healthy sleep pattern can leave students more alert, which helps them perform well in school. Health education programs can also reduce absences due to illness, so students do not miss out on crucial learning.
Support for healthy lifestyles in schools is also important because it helps students develop positive habits for later in life and fully prepares them to thrive as adults. It can also help students look after their mental health, socialize well with other students, and generally stay fit. Getting involved with an after-school soccer club, for example, can help students make new friends, practice their social skills, and stay fit.
School social workers are vital for healthy lifestyle support
Social workers in schools play a key role, and this can be seen in the range of tasks they carry out and the variety of areas they cover. Supporting healthy lifestyles is a good example of how these professionals can positively impact young people that lasts a lifetime.