A New Approach Towards Health and Wellness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full physical, mental and emotional well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease. Various definitions have been utilized over the years for various purposes. For some people, health means being healthy; for others, it signifies being free from certain diseases or conditions.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, “healthful diet, regular exercise, and a sense of humor are the keys to long-term health. Healthy diet refers to eating foods that are high in nutrients, balanced with sodium, sugar, and fat. Adequate physical activity is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. A balanced, public health approach to healthful diet and physical activity contributes to a healthy body population with decreased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health problems.”
Mental health also goes hand in hand with wellness. According to American Psychological Association, “Mental wellness implies having positive thoughts and attitudes about yourself, your ability, your surroundings, and life in general. It is essential for people to know what they are capable of, what they can do, and how they can achieve their goals.” The mental health problems associated with ill-health include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many more. Defining health disorders is a difficult task as well because mental illnesses are commonly co-occurring with physical illnesses such as obesity and high blood pressure.
There is a difference between having good health and having a good illness. Good health means you are neither underweight or overweight, you are physically active, and your blood pressure is under control. On the other hand, good illness means that you have a physical illness that is impairing your ability to function normally. This impairment could be as simple as not being able to walk the stairs when you need to or not being able to maintain a steady grip on an object. These cases call for immediate medical attention.
Health and well-being are two different concepts, yet they go hand in hand. Health is the human right to live a long, productive life, free from illness and injury. Wellness on the other hand, reflects the ability to perform the activities of daily living in a normal manner and without impairment. Being healthy and well-off is an attainable goal for everyone. By choosing an all-encompassing medical model to assess and define health and wellness, we can make an investment in the future of our society by ensuring that every individual can lead a full and active life despite the fact that he or she may be sick or suffering from some form of chronic illness.
The current definition of health and well-being is incomplete without a central concept: the ability to achieve goals and live a quality life even when illness or injury sets in. This requires an innovative, all-encompassing approach that takes into account the fact that health is a complex trait that may differ depending on the extent of a person’s sickness or impairment. We have to agree to adopt a new way of thinking about health and living in order to make a difference. A health policy that defines health and wellness as a primary objective will serve as a catalyst for the achievement of those goals. And it is a primary objective worth attaining!