Health, according to the World Health Organization; is “the state of total physical, mental and emotional well-being and not just the absence of illness and infirmity.” A wide variety of other definitions have also been used over time for various purposes. What we mean by health is a state that sustains a person’s well-being by promoting his or her well-being. It may also be considered a state that encompasses prevention of future ill-health or disability.
Good health is a state that involves complete physical and mental well-being. A good well-being enhances one’s quality of life. The quality of life that it fosters includes: freedom from physical pain and suffering, ability to work productively and joy in working and family relationships, capacity to acquire new knowledge and to do socially beneficial things, personal relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling, physical and mental health that facilitates and enhances the care of others and protection of the environment, capacity to preserve and increase the well-being of the individual and to contribute to the development of the public good, satisfaction with life and motivation to continue with what one has started.
According to a leading American Heart Association, “In the United States, life expectancy at age 50 increased for men but decreased for women between the ages of 45 and age 65. This trend is thought to be because of the large amount of new causes of death, particularly deaths from non-violent cancer and chronic conditions. Although some may attribute this pattern to aging, researchers believe that changes in life expectancy may also be influenced by changing patterns of use of tobacco and alcohol.” Thus, when people are living longer and healthy lives, they have more productive years ahead of them and are less likely to develop serious illness and disability.
A healthy diet is important not only for physical health but also for mental health. Research shows that those who eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise tend to feel better and perform better physically. It is through a healthy diet and exercise program that individuals can prevent, reduce, and eventually end the common co-morbidities of obesity, depression, and anxiety. In addition to helping individuals to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program, a public health program focused on a healthy lifestyle for all residents can have positive effects on the healthiness of an area’s economy.
Health is a mental state, as well, not only physical. A healthy mental state is necessary to maintain an optimal level of wellness and can help individuals to overcome the challenges that can cause illness. Health professionals around the world are starting to take the public’s health into account when diagnosing and treating disorders and illnesses. For example, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder often co-occur and are treated together to effectively treat both conditions. Similarly, other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder are starting to be treated successfully alongside traditional psychosocial treatments.
As the definition of health evolves along with scientific research and observation, mental health is becoming one of the primary focuses of primary care. The increasing cost of drugs and their adverse side-effects, combined with the rising cost of prescription medication is forcing consumers to consider alternative forms of treatment. While many people may turn to alternative medicine when their doctors recommend expensive and dangerous surgeries or drugs, those with mental illnesses may be forced to turn to self-medication. A mental health professional can assist patients in developing a comprehensive treatment plan that will include therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes that will improve their overall well-being.