Young People’s Health and Wellbeing: Care or Curse?

A young person’s well-being and health should be of the utmost importance in any society. However does the quest for complete wellbeing and health paradoxically damage our children’s ability to be happy within themselves, the aim of this synthesis is to summarise how the government and certain organisations view and put into practice policies and procedures to increase the health and wellbeing of young people. This synthesis will contain information an extracts from three external sources these will be listed in the works cited section of the synthesis Defining well-being

I will begin this summary with a look at how well-being is generally defined. Well-being is a term generally used to describe physical, mental and emotional health. (World Health Organisation, 1948) states that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In this statement well-being is referred to as an attempt to bring together different aspects of health.

Hetan Shah has argued that “an incredible amount of money is spent on out “health” service but most of it focuses on dealing with physical symptoms of sickness” and that “we need to reconfigure the purpose of the system in order to promote well-being. ” (Shah, H, 2005:39). However some people argue that complete well-being presents an idealistic counsel of perfection that “puts health beyond everyone’s reach” (Lewis, 2001:59). This promotes an unhealthy desire for a person to strive for perfection and to always be unhappy with their current state of health.

In 2003 the UK government developed a strategy called Every Child Matters: Change for Children (Dfes, 2003) which is aimed at supporting children from birth to 19 years old. The strategy hopes to achieve a set of outcomes for each child these are: * Be healthy * Stay safe * Enjoy and achieve * Make a positive contribution * Achieve economic well-being. These outcomes have been criticised as being biased towards children as opposed to young people. (National Youth Agency, 2003:1) says “the outcomes generally reflect the needs of children and young people are just passive

recipients of adult care, rather than partners and creative citizens with human rights and a need for encouragement and support. ” However, at least three of the outcomes talk of a healthy active person who is achieving in education and contribution to their community. There are a variety of arguments for and against the many different policies and government strategies that are set out to promote health and well-being amongst young people. Inequalities Health inequalities are defined as measurable differences in health experience between different population groups.

The most traditional way to measure health inequalities is by socioeconomic status which means an individual position in the labour market. In 1998 HBSC surveyed 25 countries and focused specifically on gender differences. These reports help to develop a better understanding of gender inequalities which in turns helps to improve young people’s health by developing better health policies and practices. As young people grow and develop their lifestyles change in accordance to their ever changing needs these changes are reflected in their health and well-being.

The HBSC conducted a survey in over 41 countries in 2005/2006; their aim was to find developmental trends which they could use to design programs and policies to promote positive behaviour in young people and help to create positive social environments in schools, homes and communities. The HBSC 2005/2006 survey covered a very wide geographical area which consisted of countries such as America, Greenland, Iceland and Europe. As all the countries have their own cultures, economic, historic and political systems HBSC decided to take the positive elements from each to create programs to promote and influence the health of young people.

Due to the fact that many negative health behaviours can start during teenage years such as smoking and drinking, young people are therefore are one of the most important groups to target for health promotion and protection. Factors influencing young people’s health and well-being Most young people at one point or another in their lives will experience varying levels of both health and well-being due to their interactions with others i. e. catching colds and other viruses. Other influences such as sleep and diet will influence their health.

Young people who grow up in a positive environment will develop and show high levels of well-being. The way a young person behaves will not only have an impact on their own well-being but that of their parents. If the impact on a parent’s well-being is severe enough it can cause a “ripple affect” which can impact a parents external relationships. An American psychologist, Urie Brofenbrenner, studied children’s developing and created “The Theory of Ecological Development”. There are five parts to the theory and I will summarise each part starting with the microsystem.

The microsystem basically shows the child as being the centre of the environment. The relationships within the microsystem are bi-directional and reciprocal. This means that the adult affects the young person’s responses and vice versa. (Barker, 1995) states that “the health of an expectant mother is closely linked to that of her unborn child and factors such as smoking and drinking are not only detrimental to her own health but that of her unborn child. ” The mesosystem refers to the social connections of a young person outside their immediate family, nursery, child-minder or school.

Research (Runyan et al, 1998) has shown that “strong support networks are crucial to a child’s health and well-being. ” The exosystem refers to any situation which may impact upon a young person’s health less directly but when they do make an impact it can be done so forcefully that the young person will develop difficult behaviour etc. Brofenbrenner also included community health services in the exosystem as some young people do not have access to healthcare which will have an impact on their health as they are unable to receive medication or vaccinations.

Society and culture are represented in the theory in a section known as the macrosystem. This represents the laws of society in which a young person must live and grow up by. The final part of Brofenbrunner’s system is the chronosystem which explains that over time the young person will change due to the maturational process but these changes will also be influenced by the history of the young person’s family. The chronosystem works on the basis that past events in a young person’s life will impact the development of the young person later in life. Conclusion

Throughout this summary on young people’s health and well-being I have examined three sources of information on the subject and I have reached the conclusion from the information I have read that although the government have set out certain policies and strategies to help promote health and well-being in young people they do not involve the parents as much in these strategies and I believe that parents are a key part to any young person’s health and well-being as they are normally the first role model in a child’s life and a child will want to be just like their parents.

If a child sees that their parents are healthy and happy they too will strive to be healthy and happy. I believe that there should be more help set out for parents on nutrition and health so they in turn can pass the information on to their children. I also strongly believe that in poorer areas more should be spent on helping children to do something creative with their time to increase their happiness and general well-being.

Works Cited * UK. World Health Organisation. Inequalities in Young People’s Health. Ed. Candace Curry, Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Emmanuelle Godeau, Chris Roberts, Rebecca Smith, Dorothy Curry, Will Picket, Matthias Richter, Anthony Morgan, and Vivian Barnekow. Scotland: WHO, 2006. Http://www. euro. who. int. World Health Organisation. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://www. euro. who. int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/53852/E91416.

pdf>. * Underdown, Angela. Young Children’s Health and Well-being. Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: Open UP, 2007. Print. * “Young People’s Wellbeing. ” OpenLearn – The Open University. Ed. Mary Jane Kehily. Open University, 2007. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://openlearn. open. ac. uk/mod/oucontent/view. php? id=397505&http://openlearn. open. ac. uk/mod/oucontent/view. php? id=397505§ion=1. 2. 2=1. 2. 2>.