Meanings of health • The questions of health and how it is defined is the source of much debate. The concept of health has been around for thousands of years and is often seen as something that people aspire to. Health has frequently been purely equated with the physical aspects of the body and whether or not a person is well or unwell. However, more holistic views of health take into consideration other components of a persons life and makeup. The term ‘health’ means different things to different people and this fluidity make it difficulty to come up with one definitive explanation.
In 1946 the World Health Organization (Who) defined health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. This definition has become the international foundation explanation of health on which all health organizations' base their policies and procedures. However some people even suggest that this definition cannot be considered truly healthy unless they have complete physical, mental, or social well-being.
Dimensions of health We now understand that a number of dimensions all play an important role in determing a person’s sate of health. These dimensions include a persons physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. The five commonly regarded dimensions of health are as follows • Physical Health- the wellness of the body and the absence of chronic pain or discomfort • -refers to the state of the physical body, which includes • The efficient functioning of the body organs • Our level of fitness • Nutritional status • Degree of energy • Body weight • Resistance to disease
Social Health : Is our ability to interact with other people in an independence and cooperative way. Our interaction with other people (family, friends, strangers) as well as the social and communication skills and abilities we display. Emotional Health : the ability to cope, adjust and adapt to challenges and changes. It also includes a knowledge and acceptance of one’s feelings and emotions, the ability to manage stress in an appropriate manner, the ability to be resilient in tough times and having a well developed sense of self.
Cognitive/Mental Health :the cognitive, or intellectual, dimensions of health includes being able to access, process and use knowledge to assist in decision making, reasoning, weighing up the consequences of actions, life planning and career development. Spiritual : involves finding purpose and meaning to life. While it can include a belief in a higher being, it can simply mean having a sense of one’s self as part of a bigger picture and is closely related to one’s personal value system. It often involves finding a sense of inner peace or strength, a connection with nature or optimism for the future.
Hand out Fig 1.3: Health is a result of interactions between all the dimensions of Health (Outcomes 1)
Relative and dynamic nature of health • Health is the result of a continually changing process. From a personal perspective it may be represented as a continuum, with optimum health or a positive state of mind at one end and a very poor health or being extremely unwell at the other end. Question: Using a Health Continuum similar to the one in the picture rate your own level of health and then write an explanation that clearly shows the reasons for your ratings.
Health is seen as dynamic in nature as it is constantly changing. It is not something that we achieve and then do not have to worry about any more. If we were to rate our health on a continuum ranging from extremely good health to extremely poor health, the placement of our ratings would move continually as we shift from being well to unwell, happy to unhappy, or productive in our work or struggling to study and stay focused. • Health is also seen as relative, that is it tends to be defined in relation to something else. We see our health in relation to our previous health, the health of others, our current circumstances and our potential for health. A 22 year old professional athlete with a persistent injury may consider themselves unhealthy in relation to their health when they are at peak fitness. Alternatively, a 70-year old man who is recovering rapidly from surgery which has increased his life expectancy may consider his health excellent in relation to what it was before the operation.
homework • On Posterous answer the following Question. • WHO definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social Wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. • Explain how the definition incorporates a holistic approach to health.