What Is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is not a new concept; however, multiple definitions of and approaches to health literacy have appeared in literature.

The following definition for health literacy was the foundation for SHAPE America's guidance document, Appropriate Practices in School-Based Health Education:

Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, appraise, apply and advocate for health information and services in order to maintain or enhance one's own health and the health of others.

The Goal of Health Education

The goal of health education is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead healthy lifestyles. A skills-based approach is a best practice for delivering high-quality health education.

Health literacy is an important measure of the effectiveness of health education and is critical to ensuring that students have the ability to be healthy throughout their lives.

Health-literate people are able to address their own health needs along with the needs of others. They are able to obtain and apply knowledge and skills to enhance their own health and the health of others — both now and in the future as their needs change throughout their lives.

Helpful Health Education Documents

This guidance document gives teachers, administrators, curriculum specialists and teacher trainers a detailed blueprint for designing and delivering health education that meets national, state and local standards and frameworks. Learn More >>

SHAPE America believes that a preK-12 comprehensive skills-based health education program is a critical component of a student’s well-rounded education. Learn More >>

The Health Ed/SEL Crosswalk document aligns CASEL’s SEL competencies and related skills to the National Health Education Standards and Performance Indicators. Learn More >>