Health is a condition of mental, physical and emotional well-being where infirmity and illness are either absent or nonexistent. Health is a cardinal concept that has been around since time immemorial. It has evolved from a more primitive mode to an integrated concept with modern society. The word “hope” in the English language points to the idea that hope is the ability to recover from adversity and has been viewed from an emotional perspective within the medical community since the advent of Hippocrates (Greece) approximately three thousand years ago. From that time, hope has taken on various forms pointing to religious and philosophical outlooks, as well as practical considerations based upon the understanding that sickness is inevitable in one’s life. Consequently, medical science has sought to eliminate the symptoms of sickness and seek instead to treat the cause of the illness thereby leaving the individual with hope for the future.
The current theory of holistic health maintains that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of an individual are interrelated and dependent upon each other. Holistic health recognizes that each of these components can be effectively promoted through appropriate action. For example, when an individual is healthy mentally, he or she can provide assistance to others by assisting them in achieving their objectives or enhancing their lives. By helping others you help yourself. In this way your total well-being will increase.
One important component of holistic health is public health. Public health seeks to promote the well being of the population as a whole. The greater the population’s well being, the better the overall quality of life will be for all. A good public health program focuses on prevention as well as early detection through a system of prevention including educational programs, public service, and research and development. Prevention includes but is not limited to screening for, cancer; blood pressure; diabetes; obesity; substance abuse; and tobacco use.
A major component of defining health is the ability to get well. Getting well refers to being able to experience the physical symptoms associated with sickness. Each person has a unique set of symptoms that may occur during their lifetime. Some of these symptoms include but are not limited to: fatigue, dizziness, disorientation, and/or pain. Other symptoms may be but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, anorexia, loss of appetite, and sleeplessness.
As previously mentioned wellness incorporates the entire picture; it is not just a physical state. Public health is crucial for a society to be as healthy as possible. Another aspect of overall wellness is defining what is considered a serious mental health condition. These conditions are those that are considered to be beyond the ability of the brain to handle on its own. These range from depression to bipolar disorder and from schizophrenia to post traumatic stress disorder. Serious mental health disorders impact approximately 20% of the adult population.
The cost of treating mental health problems and other physical illnesses that impact millions of people in the United States is staggering. In fiscal year 2021, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that the cost of treating patients with both mental health problems and physical illness was approximately $61 billion dollars. By comparison, the cost of treating a typical family is about three hundred dollars per year. The number of people who suffer from some form of mental health problem is growing at an alarming rate.
While there is no singular answer to the question of how to improve the quality of life, there are several important factors that contribute to the quality of life for everyone. Living a healthy and fulfilling life requires both physical and mental health and a proper balance of the two. One of the major factors in improving the quality of life is improving the wellness of one’s personal life. When thinking about the two, it makes sense that improving your mental health would impact your physical health. This is the reason the continuum model is so useful.
The continuum of wellness refers to the whole person, including body, mind, and soul. The focus on wellness has made many health professionals to incorporate the concept of the continuum model into their practice. Studies have found that if a patient sees their entire body as being connected and understands that their body is capable of healing itself, they are more likely to make positive lifestyle changes that improve their mental health. The same concept applies to public mental health.