What Is The Definition Of Health?
The concept of health is widely recognized today in all countries and cultures. For a society that places importance on health, it is not surprising that health education has taken different forms throughout the years. Health, according to the World Health Organization, “is a state of full physical, mental and social wellbeing and not simply the absence of illness and infirmity.” Various definitions have also been used throughout the years. One of the most common ones that has stuck is the definition provided by WHO: “a state of proper health with the ability to lead a normal life.”
WHO clarifies its definition of health by adding the following qualification: “any disease or condition of the body or mind that causes damage to the body or causes discomfort or unhappiness.” Because some people believe that poor health equates to disease or a poor quality of life, the use of this definition has been expanded to include not just disease but also any bodily or emotional problem that interferes with the person’s ability to lead a happy and healthy life. This definition is indeed a comprehensive one, and it includes the emotional aspects as well.
The need for a comprehensive definition of health has led to many attempts at developing one. A prime example of these efforts is the WHO International Study on Health and Wellness. This study, begun in 1987, sought to draw a distinction between the concepts of physical and emotional wellness. The study determined that while both are vital, the former is more important than the latter and that emotional wellness is the key element in both health.
In addition to looking at the physical aspect of health, the study looked at emotional wellness. Looking deeper into the concept, it found that illness was often the result of a depressed emotional state and that emotional wellness, on the other hand, was directly linked to the degree of physical fitness. Thus, it is not necessarily the case that if you are healthy, you are psychologically healthy. It may be that in fact, the absence of physical illness was the cause of emotional distress and illness.
The study brought about a new definition of health. It was discovered that illness was not the result of some toxin-producing agent or an abscess. The definition now looked deeper into the entire concept of health. Instead of looking for a single determinant or indicator of illness, it was found that absence of symptoms was the indicator of overall health. Thus, absence of some physical symptom was seen as a clear indicator of being mentally healthy and strong. In the same vein, the absence of any emotional disturbance or mental disorder was seen as a clear indicator of good health and an absence of psychological disorders.
While the above definition may seem relatively simple, it still has important implications. For one, it suggests that people who have long-term illnesses and are not mentally healthy may be harming their children and themselves through neglect and denial. On another hand, it points out that a healthy diet and emotional wellness are necessary elements for good health. This new way of looking at health may help promote the public health sector as well as motivate better research and public awareness. In addition, it is hoped that this study will stimulate more studies and evaluations of mental health and the role of diet and nutrition in improving health.