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Impact of the media, peers and family

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1 Impact of the media, peers and family
The media, our peers and our family have a significant impact on their perceptions we develop about health. These three groups exert a strong influence on the ideas that people form about what constitutes good health and the value they place upon various aspects of health.

2 The Media The Media can have both positive and negative impact upon our perceptions of health. We are subjected to media messages about our health and how to be healthy every day. Theses messages emphasise particular ideas or meanings about health which are not necessarily accurate. Eg the media very often promote a slim body as an idea for women and muscular body as ideal for men. Unrealistic images of this perceived norm can be detrimental to an dividual beliefs about health and many people can go to damaging lengths to achieve this.

3 The Media The media can also have a positive impact on our perceptions of health. The media plays a significant role in disseminating health-related information. For example, news stories on binge drinking, television advertisements about skin cancer or feature articles in magazines on obsessive compulsive disorder all seek to raise awareness and increase people's understanding of these health issues. Stories in the media also influence people's perceptions through the depth of information they provide, the way this information is presented and the frequency of this presentation. A continued focus on a particular health issue can draw the public's attention to that particular topic, possibly at the expense of other areas of concern. It can also affect people's perception of the risk that they will experience a particular health problem, its likely severity and the future prevalence of this problem within the community. For example, media coverage relating to HIV/AIDS has contributed to a heightened knowledge and awareness of this particular virus in comparison to other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or hepatitis B, which receive less coverage but are far more prevalent in the community.

4 Peers Peers The group with whom we associate at school and outside of school markedly influences our attitudes about health and the health behaviours we adopt. Along with our family, our peers are the group most likely to influence our ideas, promote certain behaviours and provide support in terms of our health. When group members share similar ideas about what good health means and place comparable value on the importance of good health it is easier for the individual to behave in ways that will enhance their health and well-being. For example, when young people recognise that positive mental health is an important component of their general well-being, they are more likely to support individuals who are experiencing emotional difficulties and encourage them to talk openly about their feelings and seek support. However, when mental health problems are perceived as a sign of weakness, an attempt to get attention, or not a significant problem it becomes harder for the individual to recognise or acknowledge that they are experiencing difficulties or ask for help.

5 Peers Young people's behaviour can be significantly influenced by their peers. Social pressures, along with the desire to fit in, may contribute to decisions being made that are likely to negatively affect their health. For example, decisions to experiment with drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, take risks when driving, participate in sexual activity or spend time sunbaking are more likely to be made by young people when these behaviours are common among their peers. However, when a peer group recognises these behaviours are unhealthy and liable to cause significant immediate or future harm, they are likely to discourage others from engaging in these activities.

6 Family Families can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s perception of health and the meanings they give to health. If a person’s family perceives physical activity as a healthy pursuit and a fun way to spend time with friends, then the individual is more likely to participate in physical activity and value the health benefits it brings. If a person is surrounded by active people, they are more likely to be active themself. Conversely, families who perceive physical activity as boring or difficult tend to be more sedentary and would judge their health according to other measures. Families influence the health perceptions of their members by the values they hold and the lifestyles they espouse.

7 Health behaviours of young people
The media constantly highlights the health status and health behaviours of young people, provoking much discussion and debate. The positive health status of young people In order to discuss the health status of young people, it is important to first define who young people actually are. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), young people range from 12 to 24-years-old and make up 18 per cent of the total Australian population.

8 The positive health status of young people
The health of young people is a topic frequently discussed in the media. Stories often report increasing rates of obesity, escalating consumption of junk food, declining levels of physical activity in favour of television and computer-based activity, regular episodes of binge drinking, a rise in the use of illicit drugs such as ecstasy and ice, increased promiscuity, growing incidence of mental health problems and an over-representation in motor vehicle accidents. Such stories contribute to a perception that young people are in a poor state of health. How accurate are these perceptions? What has current research found about the health status of young Australians and their health-related behaviour?

9 The positive health status of young people
Research into the health status, health outcomes and factors influencing the health and well-being of young Australians has been regularly undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The findings of their most recent research have been published in a report titled Young Australians: their health and well-being 2007. According to this report the health of young Australians (defined in the report as those aged between 12 and 24 years of age) has continued to improve over time and the majority of young people are currently faring well in terms of their health and well-being. Evidence of this good state of health can be found in improvements in life expectancy rates and a decline in mortality in young people between 1980 and 2004, largely as a result of reductions in deaths caused by injury, suicide and transport accidents. Reductions in morbidity from chronic diseases such as asthma, communicable diseases such as rubella, mumps and meningococcal, suicide, motor vehicle accidents and other injuries such as poisoning have also contributed to improvements in young people's health.

10 The positive health status of young people
Workbook Activity- Young Australians: their health and wellbeing. Investigate information contained in this report (pg12-17) and construct a mind map that provides a snapshot of the health status and behaviours of young people. They identify the areas in which young Australians are faring well, those areas of most concern and population groups that experience inequities.

11 Protective behaviours and risk behaviours
Adolescence is the time when young people begin to move from being dependent children to independent adults. Along the way they face a range of challenges and start to make decisions about particular health behaviours that play an important role in determining their immediate and longer term health. These health behaviours can be seen as being either protective behaviours, because they are likely to enhance good health (such as eating adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables), or risk behaviours because they have been found to contribute to the development of health problems or poorer levels of health (for example, smoking). The health and social behaviours that are adopted or reinforced during this time often continue into adulthood, so it is important to identify the prevalence of particular behaviours and analyse any trends that may be apparent. Behaviours relating to levels of physical activity, eating habits, substance use (including tobacco, alcohol and other drugs), sexual activity, help seeking, social connectedness and risk taking are those likely to have the biggest impact on young people's health.

12 Mental Heath Mental health
As discussed earlier in this chapter, one of the dimensions of health is our emotional or mental health, which refers to the way we think, act and feel, and to our ability to cope with challenges. While many young people rate their health highly, recent studies indicate that just over 25 per cent of young people, aged 18 to 24 have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Mental disorders are the leading contributor to the burden of disease for young people, with anxiety and depression being the most common problems. Mental disorders can affect almost every aspect of a young person’s life and, if untreated, can be a risk factor for self-harm and suicide. While many young people experience mental disorders, very few seek help and, therefore, they may suffer unnecessarily. Diagnosis, treatment and appropriate management can greatly reduce a person’s suffering and allow them to increase their level of health and wellbeing. Life is a rollercoaster for young people and having a broad repertoire of skills and strategies to help deal with all the things life throws in their direction can be extremely empowering.

13 Mental health pg 20 Risk behaviours • Blocking feelings and emotions
• Believing that mental problems are a sign of weakness • Believing that you can solve all your problems yourself • Thinking you are the only person in this situation and that others will not understand • Not seeking help from friends, family or qualified professionals • Catastrophising • Overgeneralising • Self-harming • Taking drugs • Binge drinking • Isolating yourself and not being involved in social events or activities • Seeking out opportunities to engage in high risk and unsafe activities Protective behaviours Risk behaviours • Acknowledging that ordinary people can suffer from mental health issues and that everyone is different • Understanding the mental health issues can be treated and managed • Being able to put things in perspective • Making connections with a supportive and caring adult in your life e.g. teacher, coach, church leader • Learning and practising stress management skills • Regularly expressing feelings through keeping a journal or blog, talking to someone or writing a letter • Knowing where you can go for help e.g. the internet, youth centres, school counsellor Developing social networks with a variety of people • Participating in community, volunteer or service activities • Taking some time out • Avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol • Exercising and eating well

14 Food habits Waistlines are increasing in Australia society and the results of SPANS support this with the finding that 25 per cent of young people are overweight or obese. Other findings from the survey showed that a large proportion of young people exhibit poor eating habits. Less than a quarter of young people eat the recommended amount of vegetables per day (4 serves). 55 per cent of boys and 4 per cent of girls drink more than one glass of soft drink per day. Less than a quarter of young people drink low fat milk. 80 per cent of young people eat at fast-food outlets at least once a week. Many young people skip breakfast. Around 30 per cent of young people eat their evening meal in front of the television. Being overweight or obese can have a significant impact on the lives of young people. It can seriously affect their self-esteem and may subject them to bullying and negative stereotypes. Poor eating habits, which lead to being overweight or obese, can increase the likelihood that a young person will suffer from asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease and a range of other social, emotional and physical problems in both the short and long term. The incidence of type 2 diabetes, which was normally associated with older people, is increasing among young people.


16 Food habits pg 22 Protective behaviours
• Enjoying foods without overindulging • Seeking out good information about food through magazines, the internet, health clubs and your local doctor • Eating a variety of foods in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating • Making plans to eat more healthily • Establishing healthy routines, such as getting up a bit earlier to allow you to eat breakfast or preparing healthy snacks to keep in the fridge • Bringing lunch from home rather than buying it every day • Being proactive in your school by organising a group to survey students and give suggestions to the canteen as to what healthy foods you would like to see on the menu Risk behaviours • Overindulging in foods e.g. having large helpings and going back for seconds or thirds • Drinking soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks that are high in sugar on a regular basis • Skipping meals and then snacking on foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar • Not being informed about the nutritional value of foods • Eating meals in front of the television or computer • Not eating breakfast Regularly eating at fast-food outlets • Rarely eating fruit and vegetables • Always buying lunch and recess snacks from the school canteen

17 Physical Activity Many young people are involved in physical activity and although the general trend is towards an increase in physical activity levels, there are still concerns in this area. The Australian Physical Activity Recommendations for Children and Young People state that all young people should be involved in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. While a high percentage of young people meet this recommendation, activity levels tend to decline with age. Other issues relating to physical activity include that more boys are physically active than girls, that younger students tend to be more active than older students, all young people are more active in the summer months of the year, and young people who live in rural areas tend to be more active than those who live in urban areas.

18 Physical activity pg 22 Risk behaviours
Protective behaviours Becoming involved in a team sport • Limiting the amount of time spent on small-screen activities • Walking or riding to school or getting off the bus a few stops earlier and walking part of the way • Finding a sport or physical activity that really suits you—it may be an individual or team activity • Planning for physical activity and looking for ways to be physically active in everyday life e.g. walking the dog, riding your bike, parking further away from the shops • Organising a group at school to talk to teachers about your physical education uniform (if you are reluctant to participant in physical activity because of the clothes you have to wear, maybe you can lobby for the uniform to be changed) Risk behaviours • Spending increasing amounts of time in sedentary activities • Always using cars and public transport rather than walking or riding • Finding excuses to skip physical education classes • Being in a group that encourage physical inactivity • Believing you are not able to change your skill level in relation to physical activity • Spending large amounts of time working or studying and not balancing this with some form of physical activity • Using drugs or alcohol Not eating a healthy diet • Not being aware of the opportunities available for physical activity in your school or local area

19 Body image Body image is a person’s attitude towards their body—how they see themself, how they think and feel about the way they look and how they believe others perceive them. Many young people identify body image as a concern; and a range of things, such as a person’s attitudes and beliefs as well as the media, our peers and society, can influence their thoughts. A young person’s body image can have a huge impact on their health and wellbeing. Poor body image can affect self-esteem and a young person’s social adjustment. A distorted body image and body dissatisfaction can lead to many damaging behaviours and may also lead to disordered eating patterns such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Young people need a great deal of encouragement and support around issues relating to body image due to the pervasive nature of the media in putting forward unrealistic stereotypes.

20 Body image pg 24 Protective behaviours
• Looking for ways to develop positive self-esteem e.g. working hard at school, finding activities you are good at, surrounding yourself with positive friends • Using media literacy to help deconstruct stereotypical images of a ‘normal’ body • Developing coping skills such as good communication, conflict resolution and problem solving • Making connections with a positive, caring adult • Being aware of and using relaxation and stress management techniques • Being proud of yourself and your achievements • Having a good support network Knowing that it is okay to eat a balanced diet that includes all foods, some in moderation • Wearing the right clothes for your body shape • Being involved with different groups of friends who have similar interests and who encourage you Risk behaviours • Participating in ‘yoyo’ or fad dieting or fasting • Excessively exercising or lifting weights • Using steroids • Following disordered eating patterns • Constantly comparing yourself and your body to media images, models and movie stars • Not having a range of friends and activities to be involved in • Believing that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods • Believing that having a different body will make you happier • Feeling guilty about what you eat • Not critically analysing media messages about what is a ‘normal’ body • Having no one to talk to about problems, concerns or issues • Feeling ‘out of control’ in relation to your body • Using drugs or alcohol

21 Drug Use Drug use Adolescence is a time when young
people may choose to experiment with drug use and, even though large number s of young people do not use or abuse drugs, there are some areas of concern. The earlier young people are initiated into the use of drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, the more likely they are to continue to use these substances and develop problems that may affect their future health. The AIHW’s most recent findings around young people and tobacco use show that while there has been a steady decrease in the amount of smokers between 12–24 years of age, 17 per cent of young people are smokers and, of this fi gure, there are slightly more female smokers than males. The use of illicit drugs is decreasing for young people, in all areas except for ecstasy use.

22 Drug Use-pg 25 Risk behaviours • Binge drinking
Protective behaviours • Hanging out with people who have common interests that do not involve substance use • Joining a sporting team or recreation group • Practising positive peer pressure e.g. challenging people not to drink or take drugs, and getting involved in alternative activities • Trying to cultivate other interests that are not related to drug taking • Practising positive stress management and relaxation techniques • Having a range of skills to seek help • Being able to talk to other people • Practising peer refusal skills • Having a plan before you go out, to avoid risky situations that involve drugs or alcohol e.g. how to get home: money for a cab, contract with parents to pick you up • Practising harm-management strategies if you do intend to drink e.g. spacing drinks, avoiding shouts, drinking non alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks Risk behaviours • Binge drinking • Drink driving or getting into a car with someone who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs • Mixing drugs and alcohol • Accepting drugs from an unknown source • Using drugs alone • Having limited interests • Being aggressive towards others when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs • Drink spiking • Having minimal coping skills • Not knowing where to seek help • Using alcohol or other drugs to mask a problem or concern • Underage drinking

23 Sexual Health Adolescence is a time of heightened sexual awareness, an intensified interest in sexuality and emerging feelings of attraction towards others. At this time, some young people may choose to enter into close, intimate relationships and begin participating in sexual activity. Being sexually active can lead to a number of short-term harms and long-term consequences for the health and well-being of young people. Engaging in unsafe sex increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a number of which are increasing in prevalence in young people, notably chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Participating in unsafe sexual activity can also result in an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. 

24 Sexual Health pg 27 Protective behaviours
• Abstaining from or delaying sexual intercourse • Practising safe sex, if sexually active • Having well-developed communication skills and strategies • Regularly doing a breast self examination (BSE) • Regularly doing testicular checks • Having the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to protect against cervical cancer • Getting regular pap smears if you become sexually active • Getting regular sexual health checks if you become sexually active • Being well informed about STIs and various methods of contraception • Learning and practising being assertive in different situations • Looking out for your friends if they are drunk or high Risk behaviours Early initiation of sexual activity • Having unprotected sexual intercourse • Having sexual intercourse when drunk or high pressured to do so • Coercing someone into having sexual intercourse • Not being informed about STIs • Feeling confused about your sexuality but not talking to anyone about it • Avoiding regular health checks and tests, particularly if sexually active

25 Road Safety Road safety, incorporating driver, passenger, pedestrian and wheels user safety, is an important health issue for young people. Injury is still the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for young people and, while there has been a decline in overall road deaths in Australia, young people (males in particular) remain overrepresented in traffic accident statistics. This is concerning particularly as they are only a small proportion of the population who hold a driver’s licence. Some of the factors influencing these statistics for young people include: greater levels of independence, inexperience with new situations, which may require new skills overconfidence and a sense of impunity (‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude), which results in higher levels of risk taking the stage of brain development during adolescence means that hazard perception and decision-making skills are not fully developed the influence of peers experimentation with alcohol and other drugs busy lifestyles, which means that young people may be tired or distracted.

26 Road Safety Protective behaviours Risk Behaviours
Being assertive to safeguard your own and others’ safety, especially in cars • Not assuming ‘it won’t happen to me’ • Not drinking and driving • Organising a designated driver who will not be using any alcohol or other drugs • Arranging to be picked up after a party or function • Using public transport or a taxi if under the influence of alcohol or other drugs • Arranging to stay overnight rather than drive if you plan to drink at a function • Using the graduated licence scheme to your advantage e.g. encourage your instructor to give you lots of hours driving experience in lots of different environments • Planning long trips to include rest stops and using the stop, revive, survive centres and designated rest areas on NSW roads • Not driving at times when you would normally be asleep • Sharing the driving whenever possible • Wearing seat belt Risk Behaviours Having a sense of invulnerability or impunity— an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude • Driving with a BAC above the legal limit • Driving under the influence of other drugs • Drink walking • Talking on a mobile phone while driving • Sending and reading text messages while driving • Driving with lots of passengers in the car • Having loud music in the car when driving • Changing the CD or song on your mp3 player while driving • Speeding • Driving while sleep deprived

27 Protective behaviours and risk behaviours
Questions Define protective behaviours and provide 3 examples from three different categories (4marks) 3.Define risk behaviours and provide 3 examples from three different categories (4marks)

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