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What Is Health

    All types of health are linked, and individuals need to strive for general wellness and balance as a key to good health. A functioning health care system makes sure that people stay in as good a shape as possible as long as possible. An efficient health system supports Australians health through treating illnesses, preventing diseases, and maintaining the wellbeing of individuals. Health is a condition of physical, mental and social wellbeing where illness and disease are absent.

    The World Health Organization states as a fundamental principle that health is the state of full physical, mental and social well-being, and is not simply the absence of disease or infirmity . The Constitution of the World Health Organization, enacted in 1948, also recognizes health as a basic human right and states that enjoying a maximum achievable standard of health is one of the basic rights of every person, regardless of ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, economic status, or social status . The definition clearly links health with well-being, and conceptualizes health as a human right requiring both physical and social resources for its attainment and maintenance. A third definition states that health is a state of equilibrium, an equilibrium an individual has established in themselves, as well as among themselves and their social and physical environments.

    The second is that health is the condition which allows the individual to cope properly with all demands of everyday life (implying the absence of illness and disability as well). Health may be considered to include either the absence of illness, or the presence or absence of medically measured risk factors, in the individual. If health is defined as not having a disease, then it is the medical profession who is able to pronounce the person as healthy.

    It is harder to define mental health than it is physical health, since many mental diagnoses are dependent on the individuals perspective on his or her experiences. Behavioral and social risk factors for both physical and mental health problems tend to overlap, making it hard to tell if a mental disorder is preceding physical disease, or vice versa. While it is evident that physical health conditions can be accompanied by mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, the consequent mental states may, in turn, hinder the recovery or stabilization of medical conditions, thereby creating a vicious cycle whereby well-being is hard to achieve (Evans et al.

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, individuals who smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs in order to cope with stressful situations are more likely to experience health problems compared with individuals who cope with stress by eating healthily, relaxing, and exercising. A main critique of this view is that it is unrealistic, since it leaves most of us unhealthy much of the time (Smith, 2008); few, if any, individuals are going to be fully physically, mentally, and socially fit at all times, making this approach potentially ineffective and counterproductive (see Godlee, 2011). The definition of complete health as being free from illness leaves little room for people who do suffer from chronic illnesses, and little room to address these conditions in novel ways.

    In the face of the confusion over definitions of health, perhaps it is more helpful to define health, good or bad, by terms that can be measured and interpreted with regard to an individuals capacity to function normally when measured, as opposed to a persons probability of impending illness. The most straightforward definition of health–equating with absence of disease–would result in the definition of promoting health as the effort to eliminate diseases and reduce the number of individuals suffering from them. The function-related participation in defining health would be reflected by defining the promotion of health as the process through which individuals ability to deal would be enhanced and strengthened, such as through regular, compulsory exercise. As we wrote in the August issue of American Journal of Public Health, we argue that the definition of health must incorporate adaptations to evolving health needs throughout life, as well as the optimal management of illness, as means of promoting physical, mental, and social wellbeing.

    We must also incorporate early and optimal management of illness as part of health, with goals of prioritizing risks versus benefits according to the evolving needs, priorities, and health profiles of an individual throughout their lifespan. Maintenance and promotion of health are achieved by various combinations of physical, mental, and social wellbeing, collectively sometimes called the health triangle. Health is an asset for daily life, rather than an end in itself; health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, in addition to physical capabilities.

    The World Health Organization describes mental health as a state of wellbeing where an individual is aware of their abilities, can handle normal stresses in life, is capable of working productively and fruitfully, and is capable of contributing to their community. Poor health may be defined as having illness, and good health as having none–especially no ongoing illness, since one who is struck by, say, a sudden bout of seasickness might not be thought of as having lost good health because of that mishap. It may be seen that, in contrast with sickness, which is often recognisable, palpable, and fairly easy to determine, health is a somewhat vague and slightly hard-to-define condition.

    Even under such definition, a concept of good health would have to include some allowance for environmental changes. To determine if someone is well-healthed according to the third definition mentioned earlier, the physician should examine the way people with the illness experience their illness, the way their illness affects their lives, and the ways in which they have proposed to combat or cope with their illness. Probably increasing their risk for medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — even decreasing life expectancy relative to those who do have access to healthier foods.

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