Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an optimum state of health achieved through a holistic approach that acknowledges the interdependence of body, mind and spirit.” Different definitions have been applied to health throughout the years. However, health is something we all desire and pursue for our entire lives. It is a state we strive for because it represents a state of total well being.
There are many different approaches to health and its definition, with some people believing that there is only one definition, “paleofuture,” while other people believe that health systems can be viewed in many different ways. These different definitions also have different implications for how health is attained or maintained. For instance, in order to achieve health one would have to establish and maintain one kind of health system, such as one that focuses on prevention or another kind of preventive health system.
Prevention, on the other hand, would entail paying attention to signs and symptoms of illnesses, then attempting to counter these with appropriate measures and remedies. Prevention is a much faster and easier approach to health than implementing a public health care system that would provide for treatment after the fact. Therefore, there is an emphasis on educating older adults about their risks factors and encouraging them to take preventative measures. This focus on prevention is somewhat different from the definition of “health,” which in the United States focuses on treating illnesses with medicines and surgery.
A public health approach to treating illness focuses on the well-being of the community as a whole, including all age groups. Thus, it does not include individuals who have a genetic predisposition for certain illnesses, nor does it include individuals who have a mental illness that makes them prone to depression or other emotional disorders. The focus on public health in this definition of “well-being” is on wellness, which includes overall physical health, mental health, and social and educational development.
In contrast, the definition of “mental well-being” is actually the opposite of the previous definition. Mental wellness is the ability to live life as desired. People who fall into the mentally healthy population are able to think, reason, feel, and choose in the face of obstacles. Those with mental illness are often unable to perform these necessary tasks or are unable to reach the same level of mental clarity that others can achieve.
There are many interdependence theories about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit. According to Halliday and Trainer, when “a person becomes ill, depressed, or physically sick, it may be because her mind and spirit are suffering.” This mental illness can then manifest itself in physical form, such as the flu, colds, muscle aches, and other problems. These theories suggest that the well-being of individuals should be considered along with physical health, as they are a continuum and cannot be separated.