Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is, “a condition of the physical human body and its ability to function normally affecting the various systems of the body that maintain our life.” A wide variety of other definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. However, the fundamental premise on which all health concepts are based remains to be the recognition that health is a state that must be maintained throughout life. It is not a concept that can be viewed in isolation or taken for granted.
The definition of health is also known by the common name we all know it by, “excess of health.” The definition states that an individual’s good health is determined by the absence of sickness, disease, accidents, or death or disability caused by those diseases. While some may consider these diseases to be inevitable, others argue that there are circumstances that threaten the health of an individual and such diseases cannot always be avoided. In this sense, the definition of excess health becomes a subjective one, with each person considering their situation differently and coming to differing conclusions about the definition of health.
An interesting example to complicate the issue is that of mental illness. Everyone agrees that mental illnesses are extremely difficult to avoid, but they differ on how difficult it is to handle the disorder once it has manifested itself. Some contend that people with mental illnesses are simply not very good at coping with certain situations and thus become victims of their own misfortune. Others note that even though mental illness cannot be prevented, a good health definition includes the fact that absence of such illness usually indicates good health. The former is considered the easier path to travel toward good health while the latter is considered to be a long, tedious, and arduous journey.
When most people hear the term “mental health systems” they tend to associate it with social assistance programs and treatment centers. While such programs and centers do play a role in ensuring better mental health, their definition is somewhat limited by their very nature as human-based services. It must be noted that a good health system must encompass all aspects of health: psychological, medical, social, and environmental aspects.
Another issue that frequently confuses the definition of mental wellbeing is the lack of a clear distinction between mental disorders and the various conditions that result from them. The problem lies in the fact that the two conditions often exhibit similar symptoms and similar causes, which leads to a confusion between the two. This issue must be addressed and made clearer if an accurate definition of mental health is to be attained. When mental wellness is defined as the ability to live an active and successful life despite a diagnosis of any mental disorder, there will be a greater chance that improvement can be made on a client’s life.
Finally, the difficulty of defining health varies depending upon the perspective of the person looking to achieve it. Some view health as the sum of all the good things in a person’s life, while others view health as restoring a person to a state where they are at their healthiest. With increasing complexity of disease processes, there are also differing definitions of wellness and mental wellness which must be taken into consideration when improving health. What was once understood to be a mere illness is now known to be a serious threat to one’s overall health and quality of life. If you or someone you know may be suffering from a mental health disorder, seek professional assistance.