Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an “appreciation of the body’s physical, mental and emotional well being.” A number of definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. In some instances, however, the definition has become so broad that it now includes a wide range of behaviors and situations that are considered to affect one’s quality of life. For example, healthy behavior or attitudes toward stress, the physical environment, and the capacity to self-care have been called into question as influences on the health of humans.
Many people may be aware that their bodies require certain levels of physical activity in order to maintain good health, such as regular exercise. Other people may be more aware of the need for mental health, which often includes the ability to learn new things as well as maintaining concentration and the ability to problem solve. The mental health and wellness definition continue to grow in both scope and depth as more research is done on the human condition. There is now evidence that people who are mentally healthy tend to live longer than those with low levels of mental health. Also, those with mental illness are more likely to experience traumatic events and negative health consequences. This has led organizations such as the World Health Organization to advocate the inclusion of mental health services in overall health initiatives.
What exactly is mental health? The best definition continues to evolve as we learn more about the mind and how it functions. Mental health is associated with the ability to live a good life despite the stresses of everyday life. Good physical health is also important to mental health, as the two are indeed intertwined. A healthy physical environment is a foundation on which good health can be built; poor physical conditions can cause a person’s mental health to deteriorate, making them susceptible to disease. Good mental health is important for coping with daily stresses and dealing with physical illness.
While all of the diseases that can affect the body can also have an effect on the brain, what is unique to mental health is that the definition is much more specific. Mental disorders are thought to arise from a combination of biological, environmental and emotional factors. The presence of any or all of these factors without the presence of good social support, resources and relationships can contribute to a person’s mental disorder, making the illness much more difficult to treat.
One of the major causes of mental illnesses is the absence of social support from peers, family and friends. In some cases, the diagnosis of a mental illness is made at a younger age, as a result of a parent’s or sibling’s report of problems. If parents and siblings do not communicate with each other in a positive way, this can create a vacuum in which there is no one to offer emotional support. When this absence is paired with a lack of care and concern from other people, a child’s lack of well-being can make him or her much more likely to develop mental health issues.
In the field of psychology, there is a third definition of this illness that can be considered a compromise between the first two definitions. According to this third definition, the presence of a physical environment can cause the onset of the disorder. However, this presence of the physical environment does not necessarily equate to mental illness. It may follow, then, that the diagnosis of this condition will always follow the onset of a physical presence, such as when a child is left alone in a room without adult supervision.