The Importance of Defining Health and Illness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full physical, mental and emotional well-being and not just the absence of illness and infirmity. Many different definitions have been employed over time for various purposes. It has also been viewed as the state that encompasses prevention and care for the entire individual, family, and community. It can be seen to encompass the whole of the health care system as well as the whole of the society. The importance of health and its maintenance can never be undermined.
Mental health is related to physical health through two processes: the cognitive component which deals with the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that lead to ill health and the interpersonal aspect that involve interaction and communication with others in one’s environment and the support provided by others in order to attain good health. The concepts of wellness, which includes emotional well-being as well as physical health, overlap. While people who are healthy emotionally are able to maintain good health, the reverse is true for those with poor levels of emotional well-being. The absence or excessive presence of illness or infirmity then plays a crucial role in maintaining wellness, a concept that encompasses both mental health and physical health.
Knowing the nuances between the concepts of illness and wellness, provides individuals with the capacity to make better choices when it comes to defining health and illness. In most cases, when illness is present, it is considered to be part of the disease concept; when wellness is the prevailing concept, it is considered to be a separate one. In most cases, the definition of the concept’s illness and wellness remain the same but individuals can then make choices among these two concepts in order to achieve and sustain good health. However, some healthcare entities may continue to use the traditional illness concept in order to provide services to their clients.