Health is a condition of mental, physical and social well being in which infirmity and illness are absent. Over the years a wide variety of definitions have also been used for that purpose. In most cases the term “health” is used to refer to a range of processes including prevention of sickness and maintaining health, treatment of diseases and injury, and maintenance of the general condition. In some areas the word “health” is used to refer more specifically to a set of related concepts including physical and mental well being, as well as community health.
The term “public health” is increasingly gaining recognition in the United States society for the promotion of wellness and prevention of disease. The concepts of public health and well being are closely linked but not identical. Whilst they are indeed related, the promotion of wellbeing requires an additional level of commitment on the part of citizens. A better understanding of the meaning of the term “public health” can provide a wider perspective of the importance of this effort.
The goals of health promotion are threefold. These include the achievement of healthy bodies and minds, promotion of physical abilities for active participation in society, and the maintenance of positive concepts associated with health. An integrated approach to health promotion requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account all three of these goals. The comprehensive nature of this effort is reflected in the concept of healthy communities.
Healthy communities are places in which residents live and work in harmony with one another. It is an integrated process which attempts to create positive social experiences and environments that promote healthy living and healthy attitudes toward mental health and wellness. The provision of mental health services in addition to the provision of healthcare for physical illness has been considered by experts to be a means of promoting mental health. Mental health promotion activities can take many forms.
In most instances, health promotion strategies depend on established, time-tested determinants. Physical determinants include age, gender, and genetic factors. Educational determinants refer to social and environmental circumstances that lead to poor health status and a history of health problems. Determinants that have been found to be associated with the increased presence of chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, include low socioeconomic status, poor diet, lack of exercise, and other health risks that are associated with a negative social environment.
There are also specific diseases and conditions that are associated with the presence of other physical or mental determinants. Examples include stress and depression disorders, which can both manifest themselves as psychological issues. Similarly, unhealthy relationships can result in the presence of a range of social and environmental factors that have been found to exacerbate the physical condition of those affected. Mental health science has made significant advances over the past two decades. In particular, new theories based on the impact of natural chemicals on the brain have offered new opportunities for the prevention and treatment of a range of psychological and physical conditions.