The Biggest Choice


Health is the level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans it is the ability of individuals or communities to adapt and self-manage when facing physical, mental, psychological and social changes with environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in its 1948 constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition has been subject to controversy, in particular as lacking operational value, the ambiguity in developing cohesive health strategies, and because of the problem created by use of the word “complete”. Other definitions have been proposed, among which a recent definition that correlates health and personal satisfaction. Classification systems such as the WHO Family of International Classifications, including the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), are commonly used to define and measure the components of health.

Important to establish to types of health; physical and mental health. Mental health refers to a persons psychological well-being and how they feel. Physical health has many different components such as physical activity, nutrition and diet and sleep/rest. Physical health can have a major impact on mental health and vice versa.


The definition of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body’s ability to function; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease. An example of such a definition of health is: “a state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity; ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biological, psychological, and social stress”. Then, in 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of “physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. Although this definition was welcomed by some as being innovative, it was also criticized as being vague, excessively broad, and was not construed as measurable. For a long time, it was set aside as an impractical ideal and most discussions of health returned to the practicality of the biomedical model.

Just as there was a shift from viewing disease as a state to thinking of it as a process, the same shift happened in definitions of health. Again, the WHO played a leading role when it fostered the development of the health promotion movement in the 1980s. This brought in a new conception of health, not as a state, but in dynamic terms of resiliency, in other words, as “a resource for living”. 1984 WHO revised the definition of health defined it as “the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to change or cope with the environment. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities”. Thus, health referred to the ability to maintain homeostasis and recover from insults. Mental, intellectual, emotional, and social health referred to a person’s ability to handle stress, to acquire skills, to maintain relationships, all of which form resources for resiliency and independent living.

Since the late 1970s, the federal Healthy People Initiative has been a visible component of the United States’ approach to improving population health. In each decade, a new version of Healthy People is issued, featuring updated goals and identifying topic areas and quantifiable objectives for health improvement during the succeeding ten years, with assessment at that point of progress or lack thereof. Progress has been limited to many objectives, leading to concerns about the effectiveness of Healthy People in shaping outcomes in the context of a decentralized and uncoordinated US health system. Healthy People 2020 gives more prominence to health promotion and preventive approaches and adds a substantive focus on the importance of addressing social determinants of health. A new expanded digital interface facilitates use and dissemination rather than bulky printed books as produced in the past. The impact of these changes to Healthy People will be determined in the coming years.

Systematic activities to prevent or cure health problems and promote good health in humans are undertaken by health care providers. Applications with regard to animal health are covered by the veterinary sciences. The term “healthy” is also widely used in the context of many types of non-living organizations and their impacts for the benefit of humans, such as in the sense of healthy communities, healthy cities or healthy environments. In addition to health care interventions and a person’s surroundings, a number of other factors are known to influence the health status of individuals, including their background, lifestyle, and economic, social conditions, and spirituality; these are referred to as “determinants of health.” Studies have shown that high levels of stress can affect human health.


The World Health Organization describes mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Mental Health is not just the absence of mental illness.

Mental illness is described as ‘the spectrum of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral conditions that interfere with social and emotional well-being and the lives and productivity of people. Having a mental illness can seriously impair, temporarily or permanently, the mental functioning of a person. Other terms include: ‘mental health problem’, ‘illness’, ‘disorder’, ‘dysfunction’.

Roughly a quarter of all adults 18 and over in the US are considered diagnosable with mental illness. Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the US and Canada. Examples include, schizophrenia, ADHD, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.

Many teens suffer from mental health issues in response to the pressures of society and social problems they encounter. Some of the key mental health issues seen in teens are: depression, eating disorders, and drug abuse. There are many ways to prevent these health issues from occurring such as communicating well with a teen suffering from mental health issues. Mental health can be treated and be attentive to teens’ behavior.

 Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems


Achieving and maintaining health is an ongoing process, shaped by both the evolution of health care knowledge and practices as well as personal strategies and organized interventions for staying healthy.

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