Talking about health

Our health is influenced by lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol, diet and exercise.  Knowing about changes that can improve health will enable you to help your clients and patients to make healthy choices.  For example, you probably know that smoking and second-hand smoke can harm unborn babies, so a pregnant woman would be advised to quit and also to avoid being around people who smoke. 

If you come into contact with pregnant women and families, you may have the opportunity to talk to them about their health.  Some people feel this might cause offence, or that people don’t want to change.  Also, if you have a particular habit yourself, you might not feel in a position to advise others to change.  However, evidence shows that lots of people are ready to change and that having the support of other people really helps.  Even if you don’t work as a health professional, encouraging healthy choices will reinforce messages for healthy living.

Having the facts to hand about health will help you to raise the issue of lifestyle behaviours.  You can access information regarding the skills you need to promote change (such as being non-judgmental and allowing the person to make choices themselves) and also some of the facts and figures related to particular habits such as smoking through the Health Behaviour Change Modules.  These including eLearning modules on skills (Health Behaviour Change Level 1), and topic-specific eLearning Modules (Raising the Issue of: Alcohol, Smoking, Maternal and Infant Nutrition, and Physical Activity).  There are also written resources and local training sessions in your area.