Health is a condition of mental, physical and social wellbeing where infirmity and disease are absent. The five element theory postulates that health consists of the following elements: harmony, equilibrium, flexibility, harmony and reliance. Mental health is also included in the elements of health.
The current trend in education, research and practice suggests that a major contribution to good health depends on how we perceive our own health, what we eat and how much we exercise. We have a duty to take care of ourselves and others. This involves taking time out for ourselves, as well as our family, and keeping active with job opportunities, social occasions such as parties and festivals, sport activities and volunteering. It is important for all of us to maintain a sense of personal balance between work, home and recreation. In addition, individuals need to make time to relax, rest and take pleasure in their leisure time, as well as manage their physical health, and in this context, health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis can create challenges.
With the increasing stress in modern society, health promotion has become an increasingly important consideration for both public and private entities. Public health and healthcare often work hand-in-hand, providing information on how individuals can reduce their risks of contracting illnesses and diseases. Some measures of prevention include controlling and reducing tobacco use, controlling dietary intake, promoting healthy eating practices and making it a lifestyle choice to participate in regular exercise. Public health and healthcare professionals are also concerned about increasing awareness and understanding of stress-related illnesses, as well as developing methods to address and treat them. As part of these efforts, there is an increased focus on promoting mental health and wellness and improving the quality of life for people living with chronic illness and disability.
As defined by the American Psychological Association, positive psychology focuses on the individual’s capacity for personal change and improvement, focusing on the self rather than others. This definition differs slightly from the Mayo Clinic’s description of mental health, which emphasizes the need to treat illness as a symptom of an underlying disorder. Positive psychology incorporates elements of behavior therapy, cognitive therapy and family counseling into its definition. The National Institute of Mental Health also has a definition of positive psychology that includes several other elements, such as feelings of self-worth, power, achievement and control. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a more detailed definition, which focuses on the importance of enhancing children’s mental health and wellbeing through education, support, and therapy.
The challenge of fighting the stigma attached to Illness and Disease is far greater today than ever before. Many people are unwilling to accept the fact that they may be physically ill, or in pain, or in need of treatment for an illness. Some employers will take the “undisabled” route and refuse to hire someone with a physical limitation. And even within the medical community, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe medication for patients with mental health issues. Stigma is an issue in itself, but it can make living with a mental illness more difficult.
A society that treats its mentally ill as a special category of the population is harmful to the mental health of everyone. A society that believe it is OK to have bad health conditions and treat those illnesses as if they were a different type of cancer is also harmful to everyone. Treating mental health conditions as a different class of illness opens up new and creative ways to combat mental health conditions, but doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from them.