Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an awareness of the importance of maintaining the health of individuals and their families.” Various definitions have been used over time for various purposes. In today’s lingo, however, the word health is used to refer to a set of quality indicators associated with the four areas of basic health: physical health, mental health, social health and biological health. These four areas are further divided into categories in order to be monitored on a daily basis. Although some of the diseases and conditions that affect these four areas are commonly referred to individually, in medical terms these can only be classified as one of the four.
Mental health, as defined by the WHO, is associated with a person’s ability to live an acceptable lifestyle, manage tasks, manage stress, meet needs and provide for the needs of other people. This area is one of the most prevalent in modern society, but many people still suffer from mental health problems. Mental health can be affected by a wide range of factors, some of which are more preventable than others. For example, people who suffer from depression may not be aware of it until they have a depressive episode. Other factors involved in the mental health of people include learning disabilities, substance abuse, adjustment disorders and psychotic disorders.
The fourth area of WHO’s definition of health is physical health. It covers aspects of the physical body but also takes into consideration the mental health of an individual as well. Major categories of physical health include health at the population level, coverage, morbidity and mortality, health status and risk, functioning, the environment and food resources. The mental health category focuses on issues that relate to the individual’s capacity to function normally within the community and to cope with stress, including emotional and behavioral disorders, adjustment disorders, personality disorders and other mental health problems.