Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being fit and healthy and the absence of illness and disease.” Different definitions have been employed over the years for various purposes. Today, it is often used to refer to a state of good health. But health is much more than a matter of being well or being sick.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, healthy people have characteristics that include energy, happiness, positive outlook, appropriate social skills, effective coping, and physical functioning. On the other hand, unhealthy people have characteristics that include negative motivation, negative outlook, lack of concentration, fatigue, poor physical health, emotional distress, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. People in poor health are more likely to experience short-term and long-term disorders. These include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Psychologically healthy people are capable of caring about themselves, following their diets, and maintaining appropriate social relationships.
The term healthy also encompasses the ability to bring together people from different backgrounds and engage them in activities that promote health. It can be used to refer to the quality of life improvements for people experience as they age, whether it be through better nutrition regular exercise, or social and recreational opportunities like church and neighborhood outings. Healthy living is an important component of public health, which has been the subject of growing research and focus in recent years. These findings have influenced public policies regarding what it means to be healthy and what communities can do to promote healthy living. Community health education programs have been developed and can be found in many cities, including Chicago, where the Chicago Health Equity Network focuses on equity, prevention, and early detection.
A good health policy is one that takes the individual needs of the people in a community and ties them to specific concerns, such as a high-quality public health system, affordable health insurance, adequate personal and community services, access to affordable primary and secondary healthcare, and an active and progressive social health program. Community-based initiatives have shown promising results in dealing with some of these universal issues, especially for older adults. The increasing incidence of chronic illness and disability, which usually strike older adults, makes it clear that a good health policy can have a significant impact on the quality of life for everyone. In fact, the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that those communities that provided better health care were less likely to suffer from serious medical illness, mortality, or death over a period of five years.
Another way to define health is to look at what it means to be a sense of well-being. Having a sense of emotional and physical well being is integral to one’s ability to live and function in a society. Emotional health includes one’s ability to manage stress, anger, depression, and anxiety. Mental health is also essential to one’s sense of self-worth and satisfaction with life. Finally, physical health defines health in terms of the maintenance of a healthy body, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and weight management.
It is important to note that well-being does not necessarily mean suffering from serious illnesses, disability, or death. One’s well-being can be threatened by alcohol or substance abuse, depression, or eating disorders. On the other hand, many individuals who suffer from psychological illness or disability may be struggling with serious mental health problems. This could include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is important that these individuals receive help if they are unable to self-care. A good public health program can play a significant role in assisting people to gain more control over their illness and improve their mental wellbeing.