When we talk about comprehensive health, we are not just referring to the absence of disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), comprehensive health is the state of physical, emotional and social well-being of an individual. In other words, it is important that each person has a healthy body as well as a fit mind, and that they adapt and develop properly with their environment. Comprehensive health boosts each person’s abilities as a unique person.
Elements of comprehensive health
As can be deduced from the definition of comprehensive health established in the previous section, it has the following elements:
Physical health refers to the proper functioning of the body’s organs and systems. It is defined as the condition in which the body is found. When the body functions properly physical health is good.
In this regard, the following aspects affect physical health:
• Human biology
• Health care services
Mental disorders can be of very different types and can even affect physical health. Mental health can be affected by a simple state of sadness or by more serious states such as depression or personality disorders.
Social health is determined by factors such as access to education, employment conditions, social services and other variables that the WHO has very well defined. It is defined as the ability to adapt and self-manage in the face of changes and challenges in the environment, as well as the ability to develop satisfactory relationships with other people.
All of us need to interact with our environment to survive, relate to other people and the environment around us. In addition, each person performs a series of functions that help society to progress.
There are some factors that the WHO has identified as social determinants of health in general, and, in particular, of social health. These are:
• Conditions of employment
• Social exclusion
• Public health programs
• Gender equality
• Early childhood development
• Systems of health
• Evaluation of health variables
• Healthy urbanity
Comprehensive health and new technologies
Technological advances have revolutionized many aspects of our lives and comprehensive health is one of them. New technologies have influenced such important aspects of health as the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Internet has changed the way patients act; especially those who are increasingly better informed and more aware of the need to take care of their health. In addition, it has completely changed the relationship between doctor and patient since it allows remote assistance. Big Data is another technological advance that also influences comprehensive health since large amounts of data can be handled for scientific studies, so that results referring to numerous patients are analyzed.
Regarding the relationship of new technologies with mental health, there are many tools that help in various aspects such as virtual reality, which is used for the treatment of disorders related to eating (bulimia and anorexia) and augmented reality for the treatment of phobias.
As for social health, new technologies have influenced the way people relate to each other, with elements such as social networks and smartphones. Now we can be in permanent contact and from anywhere in the world. However, these technologies sometimes produce negative effects on health such as cyber addiction, which affects the integration of the person since it produces isolation, anxiety and other symptoms.
How to improve health and its social sphere from the individual?
If we take into account the above factors, it is clear that much of the responsibility for improving social health falls on governments and public systems. But there are many things we can do individually to improve social health. For example:
Spending time with our family and friends– In order to have healthy personal relationships, the most important thing is to give of ourselves. That means taking time to be with those we want to relate to. Many times due to overwork, schedule incompatibilities or other reasons, time is the least we have to give. We replace ourselves with quick text messages or the occasional gift, behavior that ultimately affects our interpersonal relationships.
Choose wisely with whom we dedicate our time- We already know that time is scarce and very valuable, hence when we decide to share it with other people; they must contribute to our well-being. Toxic relationships, that generate negative states or that lead to making obviously wrong decisions, do not contribute to improving our social health.
Be open to experience and diversity- To feel part of what surrounds us, it is important to be open to new experiences and other people. Societies are diverse by nature and accepting (even enjoying) that diversity is a way to better integrate and adapt to what surrounds us. We must not impose cultural, gender or race barriers that prevent us from having healthy relationships.
Take advantage of opportunities to contribute in our community- If we want to have better social health, then we can start by helping to make our environment a healthier place. Let’s identify the opportunities that exist to help; from volunteering, for example, or simply being part of community groups with similar interests.
Social health, like mental and physical health, is influenced by variables that are not under our control, but there are other modifiable factors that respond to our behavior. Towards them we must direct our efforts at the individual level.