Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of illness and disease. A wide variety of definitions have been applied to the concept over the years. Some indicate that health is having healthy relationships, being physically active, having access to appropriate social services, having freedom from physical pain or limitations, having an active social life, having respect for one’s health, having a good diet, and having reasonable expectations regarding the quality of life. Other more secular definitions emphasize the importance of maintaining a balanced life, having social support, and accepting medical care.
It is important to note that the definition of health has changed over the years. The current definition emphasizes the need for improved overall well-being, including access to proper health services, physical activities, having freedom from limitations, and having a positive social support system in addition to having adequate medical care. The need for improved health promotion and education is essential to promote wellness. This effort encourages people to accept and respect their health, to manage their physical and mental illnesses, and to be willing to take responsibility for their health.
One of the goals of general health promotion and education is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health disorders. stigma can impede individuals from getting the help they need, preventing recovery and leading to worse health consequences down the road. Stigma can lead to greater rates of depression, substance abuse, and other mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. As such, stigma reduction efforts aim to eliminate negative social implications related to mental illness, while also promoting well-being. These efforts include programs such as AIDS prevention and education, cancer awareness and education, and other public health initiatives.
Not only does the absence of physical illness provide a foundation for good health, but it also provides a sense of psychological security. Individuals with a healthy self-image are less likely to be susceptible to negative emotions, such as shame, guilt, and self-doubt. Healthy self-image is also associated with higher levels of well-being. While individuals who are physically healthy may be at risk for certain types of diseases, they are less likely to experience serious consequences if they do contract those diseases. Physical diseases may not lead to death, but they certainly have the potential to cause lasting negative consequences if left untreated or undiagnosed. Untreated or ignored diseases such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or osteoporosis may result in debilitating health consequences, such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, or even cancer.
In terms of the mental health and well-being, the promotion and maintenance of healthy relationships are an integral part of wellness. In addition to the promotion of physical health through exercise, proper nutrition, and a balanced diet, a healthy relationship with others is essential to achieving wellness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a strong social network is one of the seven dimensions of healthy communities.
The promotion and maintenance of good health depend on the promotion and maintenance of a healthy social environment. This means that individual’s behavior, which can be described in terms of his or her behavior toward other people and toward physical environments, has a tremendous effect on the quality of his or her life and health. A healthy relationship with others involves reciprocating kindness, caring, respect, and openness. It also entails accepting the other person with all their faults and idiosyncrasies without blaming them, judging them, or criticizing them. Individuals who experience positive interpersonal relationships are far more likely to avoid disease, experience greater levels of happiness and well-being, and live longer than those who do not.