The Dangers of Health Disparities
Health is a condition of emotional, physical and social well-being where infirmity and disease are absent. Different definitions are used over the years for diverse purposes. Some refer to the state of being healthy as the absence of disease, while others define it as complete and total health. The third definition refers to a state of being health where all three components of health are present, i.e., mind, body and spirit. It is also known as the sum of all the aspects of human well-being.
There are many reasons as to why there are health disparities in the United States. One may cite economic class, gender, ethnicity, poverty, geography and health status as causes. Although all these factors can contribute to differences in health outcomes, some have greater impact than others, especially when differences are wide and become persistent, as they are in the United States.
Stress, anxiety, depression and poor coping skills are among the psychological and physiological stressors that affect health. These symptoms may impair functioning and lead to poor well-being, which can cause negative health outcomes, such as an increased risk of chronic diseases, cardiovascular and kidney diseases, stroke and higher blood pressure. To promote optimal state of health, it is important to manage stress and psychological disorders. Enhancing physical wellness is also an effective way to improve overall health.
People who are healthy and live fulfilling lives experience less mental stress and they spend more time happy and satisfied with their lives. Healthy people are less likely to develop debilitating illnesses or be hospitalized. They tend to have more physical activity and they eat less high-calorie foods. They do not smoke, drink or use drugs. They exercise frequently and they live in a physically active community.
An individual’s history and lifestyle have a major influence on his health status. If an older person develops a chronic illness or develops another disability, his chances of not having access to quality health care drop significantly. On the other hand, healthy people can develop serious illnesses and may require hospitalization if they have developed a new chronic illness. This can result in enormous medical and financial costs for the individual as well as the nation.
Preventing health disparities among racial and ethnic groups is important. By making health and wellness a greater priority, the United States could avoid many of these racial and health disparities. Improving the economic stability of the nation, promoting physical health and encouraging a healthy lifestyle for all could help reduce health disparities. Health and wellness initiatives in the community could help improve the health and wellness of all residents and prevent the development of health disparities among various racial and ethnic backgrounds.