Health is a complex and dynamic concept. Moreover, health is defined differently within different schools and by different authors. Inspired by these various perspectives, we formed our own vision of health from Healthy Living. How you look at health has important implications for how you promote health. These implications are also included in our vision.
Body, mind and social relationships
Health does not only refer to physical functioning, but also to a person's mental functioning. A person may be in optimal physical health and feel vital and full of energy, but at the same time may experience mental difficulties. Conversely, patients with a physical, chronic condition can still feel good mentally.
In turn, physical and mental health cannot be separated from someone's social environment. Being connected by strong social relationships and being able to participate in society are an expression of good social health, while contributing to physical and mental health.
So health has three dimensions: physical, mental and social. And of course they influence each other. In the literature this is also referred to as the biopsychosocial model of health. Health must therefore be seen as a holistic concept. On the one hand, it is about people as a whole and, on the other, it affects all aspects of daily functioning. These three dimensions are always taken into account when working on health.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." (WHO, 1946)
Being healthy and feeling healthy
How healthy someone is is not only determined by the (biomedical) measurable and objective status of the individual. The perception and experience of your own health also play a role. So this is the subjective perception of one's own health. We call this subjective perception of health well-being. You can also wear some cute stuff like I am enough
Well-being is variable
People's objective health status can vary greatly, but their perception of (un) health, the value they attach to health, and the expectations they have in relation to health can also vary. Well-being can also fluctuate and change throughout the life course of an individual, for example due to drastic life events (e.g. a burnout, a cancer diagnosis, having a child, losing a loved one, etc.).
Interplay between well-being and objective health
How someone looks at their own health influences the lifestyle choices he or she makes. These lifestyle choices in turn influence the objective, measurable health status of the individual. For this reason, preventive health care does not only take into account the objective health status, but to an equal extent subjective health (well-being). A one-sided focus on objective health ignores the importance of subjective aspects, while an exclusive focus on well-being can obscure objective health differences.
Working on well-being does not release health promoters from their task of continuing to strive for a healthy physical and social environment for everyone, and the same opportunities for everyone to positively influence their own health. Even for people who experience a high level of well-being, despite an unhealthy living environment, for example, the health promoter continues to work.