The Definition of Health and Participation in Society

The definition of health is a complex issue. Some attribute good health to genetics or luck, while others point to their lifestyle. Generally, health refers to the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis and recover from adverse events. People’s physical and mental state affect their health, as does their stress level. Ultimately, health is the ability to live a healthy life. If we are to have long and healthy lives, we must make the right choices regarding our health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “the condition of total physical, mental, and social well-being”. Moreover, it describes health as the absence of illness or injury. According to the WHO definition, health can be promoted by encouraging healthy activities, reducing unhealthy ones, and avoiding stressful situations. While many of these factors are directly related to individual choices, others are rooted in structural conditions. Here are some examples of the links between health and participation in society.

A common misconception about health is that it is only the absence of disease. This isn’t true – very few people will ever experience complete well-being all the time. Hence, the ‘complete health’ notion of health is largely inaccurate and counterproductive. It fails to consider the emergence of chronic illnesses and disabilities and contributes to the over-medicalisation of society. Fortunately, this model of health is changing rapidly and has many positive aspects.