Public Health and Mental Wellness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “healthful bodily functioning and not just the absence of illness and infirmity.” A wide variety of definitions have also been used over the years for different purposes. These definitions are used to inform individuals of the risks involved in their lifestyle and the types of treatments that can be made available for those risks. For example, someone who was diagnosed with diabetes and requested diet counseling was likely to receive treatment focused on losing weight, exercising more, and avoiding foods high in sugar. Someone else who requested the same information regarding heart disease but did not have diabetes may have had a different response or been referred to a different specialist altogether.
It’s important to address the difference between physical health and mental health problems. Many people with mental illnesses do not feel that they are physically ill and do not need the same type of care that those with diabetes or cardiac issues would. If a person with diabetes is told by their doctor that they need to lose weight, for example, they will most likely do it if it means they can eat more without gaining weight, even if they don’t enjoy it. This is because those who have diabetes are experiencing the physical illness along with the emotional toll that it has on their lifestyle and relationships; this can lead to serious problems with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses that are not addressed by only addressing the physical aspects of illness.
There are many public health initiatives that aim to promote both physical and mental wellbeing. Programs that address stress levels, obesity, smoking, and physical activity are beginning to look like old age parties, as those suffering from mental illness are looking for ways to improve their quality of life without necessarily going under the knife. Even though public health experts have spent decades acknowledging the importance of both physical and mental health, the topic remains one of controversy and debate, with little progress in terms of research and studies in the field.