Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. In the World Health Organization’s definition, health is a state free from disease or infirmity. Other definitions differ slightly, but they generally rely on the same basic premise: absence of disease. A person is defined as healthy if he or she is free from mental or physical symptoms that limit their activities or ability to do the things that they love.
The lay perspective on health has three general characteristics: individualism, pragmatism and wholeness. Individualism is a more personal perspective, reflecting the notion that health is an integral part of the individual’s life. Health affects the entire individual, including the family, and it influences all aspects of the person’s life. Wholeness is a holistic perspective that values the interconnectedness of everything in one’s life.
The founding constitution of the World Health Organization states that health is “a state of complete well-being, free from disease.” This definition was intended to go beyond the negative conception of health, based on the absence of pathology. This modern perspective is based on new insights into disease, which are changing our understanding of what constitutes a health.
In the Middle Ages, religion and the church played a vital role in understanding health and disease. The church remained the most important infrastructure after the collapse of the Roman Empire and cultivated knowledge of natural remedies and cures in its monastery gardens. During the Renaissance, the church revived this knowledge and continued it up to the present. However, with the Industrial Revolution, the meaning of health changed. Today, it means complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
Digital society has made it possible for multiple viewpoints about health to co-exist. Several different approaches to health are present online, competing for the attention of visitors, users, and creators. Hence, it is important to consider all these different perspectives when promoting public information about health. In addition, every public health intervention should take into consideration the context in which it will be communicated. This includes recognizing the different understandings of health among individuals, which can sometimes contradict each other.
Achieving health is a fundamental human right. Everyone has the right to a high standard of physical, mental, and social well-being. Consequently, governments have a duty to promote the highest standard of health for its people and to protect their environment. It is crucial to take preventive measures and address the determinants of health.
Health is an ongoing process. It requires education, attention, and prevention. Even if a person is deemed healthy today, it is possible to develop a disease tomorrow. As the medical field progresses, new diseases are found. The definitions of health are based on these changing realities. Thus, it is important to understand the definitions of health and recognize them when they first emerge.
The social determinants of health affect a range of health outcomes and contribute to health inequities. For example, not having access to a grocery store with healthy foods increases the risk of developing chronic diseases and lowering life expectancy. Furthermore, the environment influences an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks. Therefore, the key is to have a healthy body and mind.
Physical health and mental health are connected, and good health can promote better physical and mental health. Keeping active and fit can improve one’s strength, endurance, and flexibility. These factors can improve an individual’s life and quality of life. However, mental illness can negatively affect physical health. A person can suffer from depression or other mental health problems, but should not let them limit their freedom to exercise.
Health educators advocate for health and promote healthy living. They do community organizing, coordinate health screenings, and develop health-related programs. They may also conduct staff trainings and work with other health care providers to identify barriers to good health. They may even write grants to support their projects. They can also develop educational materials and work with the media to promote healthy behaviors and reduce risk.