The Definition of Health
The definition of health is an important issue. Whether one considers a person as healthy or unhealthful depends on the context in which he or she lives. The simplest definition of health is the absence of disease. If there are no diseases, it is health. But this definition is too narrow. A person can be healthy or unhealthy. It is possible to live well even when the disease that is afflicting you isn’t present. A person’s capacity to cope with life stress and challenges is an important aspect of health.
A person’s health is the sum total of physical, mental, and social resources. In other words, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It refers to a person’s ability to maintain homeostasis, to recover from adverse events, and to be fully functional. It also involves the capacity to learn, deal with stress, and manage problems. People’s health is not simply a single thing, but rather a combination of these factors.
The definition of health used by the World Health Organization was written in 1948. It defined health as “complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” This view of health is unrealistic, as very few people will be able to achieve it 100% of the time. Moreover, it fails to account for the reality of chronic illness and disability, and contributes to over-medicalisation of our society. Instead of thinking of health as the absence of disease, we should look for a more holistic definition of health.