What Are Social Determinants of Health?
Health is wealth – this is a common statement, but the truth is that physical activity can be just as important to our long term well-being as diet. It’s no secret that most Americans are sick and tired of the hype about “lifestyle changes” and “overthe-counter” (OTC) treatments for their diseases. Instead, they should be learning about proven physical activities that can improve their health and well-being.
The following tips and strategies offer a unique and powerful health promotion strategy. Exercise! Even simply walking 30 minutes a day at least three times a week can greatly improve your overall health. However, it is not enough to merely walk – you must also get off the couch and get moving! Avoid sedentary foods, soft drinks, unhealthy processed meats, and sugary sweets.
Mental Health: Mental health is related to physical health, but when one is lacking in mental well-being, physical health often suffers as well. This means that those who suffer from mental illness are more prone to sickness and are at higher risk for death. In addition, those with mental illness are more likely to miss opportunities for socialization and are more likely to have substance abuse problems, both of which exacerbate the symptoms of their illness. As such, mental health promotion is an important component of all wellness programs.
Societal Health: As noted above, physical health is not the only aspect of your health that is affected by your mental state. Mental health also impacts your relationships, your capacity to find and maintain employment, and your ability to perform your daily duties with full participation of your body. In the United States, people living in poverty are two to three times more likely to have a major mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety than those who are wealthy. The fact that social conditions are linked to poor health outcomes makes the issue of wellness even more pressing for the nation’s residents.
Public Health: One of the largest factors that affect the overall wellness of an individual is his or her social environment. Poor social conditions can lead to numerous other health risks, including disease, improper diet, smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle. The fact that poor health affects more than just your body makes the importance of public health education and prevention a vital part of the Nation’s wellness effort. Public health includes an array of activities, ranging from promoting healthy nutrition to fighting tobacco use.
The four components of the human health challenge are internal environmental factors, interpersonal determinants, lifestyle choices, and public health. Of these four, the environment has the greatest impact on your physical well-being, but external factors like pollution, violence, and conflict may also have a significant effect. To better understand the role each of these individual determinants plays, it is essential to look at all four components individually. For example, although poor dietary habits and physical inactivity are internal determinants of health, poor dietary habits and physical inactivity are also external factors that contribute to your external environments. A holistic approach that takes all these factors into account will yield a healthier and happier you.