The word health comes from the old English word “hal” meaning whole or unhurt. For me, the concept of whole or unhurt means feeling good mentally/emotionally, spiritually and physically. There is also an important component of social wellbeing that contributes to health.
These components of health are all intertwined and can influence one another. For example, if you are not feeling good mentally or emotionally it can affect your physical wellbeing. Depression and anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, or upset stomach. Similarly, if you are not feeling well physically, it affects your emotional and social wellbeing. Due to physical symptoms/diseases, you might feel frustrated, depressed, anxious and unhopeful. Physical and mental distress can also cause people to distance themselves from family and friends, leading to loneliness and isolation. This social dimension to health is critical and should not be overlooked. Humans are social beings, and relationships are important to our wellness – In fact, loneliness and social isolation are considered risk factors for some health conditions.
To be healthy means being well in all of the above-mentioned aspects. They are all interconnected and influenced by the environments and conditions in which people live. Our work at ICH is aligned with this way of thinking – our projects span a range of sectors, and we believe that to create healthy people, communities, and societies, we must go far beyond the physical and address all dimensions and determinants of health.