Health is a condition of mental, physical and social well being where infirmity and illness are absent. It involves the capacity for enjoyment of life and proper management of the body’s processes and reactions to external stresses. The concept of health has received many modifications throughout the years. Today, it is known as an essential concept for our understanding of ourselves and the universe. A well-rounded healthy lifestyle is essential to achieve health.
It was the British philosopher John Locke, who laid the foundation for today’s concept of general well-being. According to him, “health refers to the condition of being able to enjoy life”. He believed that there are three levels or facets of health, physical, mental, and social, and they are interdependent. A healthy individual has all the aspects of health, while an unhealthy individual has only one or two of these three facets. These facets of health are described in a comprehensive framework by the Public Health Service.
The framework is made up of six main aspects, each of which contributes to the overall health status of an individual. These aspects are physical factors such as immunity, nutrition, active breathing, limb strength, muscle tone and flexibility. Mental health services are also included here. They include the ability to understand and manage one’s environment, distress, social support and feelings of self worth. The last factor, heart disease, can be considered to be an affective aspect of individual behavior and therefore a critical aspect in improving health.
There are many determinants that have been used to determine health status. Some of the prominent determinants are the following: general health, the presence or absence of any chronic illnesses, prevalent emotional problems, and the existence of social problems. These determinants were used to categorize different categories of individuals according to their health status. Some of these categories are categorized as internal, external, and inter-related.
The categories further divided into three broad groups namely, individual-level, family-level and society-level. Each of these was determined by the prevalence and intensity of social determinants. For example, if an individual has developed a social determinant for unhealthy eating habits, it would be expected that his/her health outcomes would be affected by it. On the other hand, a healthy individual with no history of eating disorders would not likely to develop them. However, this does not mean that all determinants are equally important. Some determinants such as the availability of resources may have an impact on health outcomes, while others like genetics are more influential.
Despite the differences in health status, there are also stark differences in health promotion activities and in their impact on health. This is reflected in the existing discrepancies between health status and health promotion. Most organizations are committed in improving the health of the entire population. Programs focus on reducing health disparities and achieving the targets set by governments. These programs aim at creating awareness about health risks and promoting healthy lifestyles.