Concept of Health


This assignment will use cognitive and affective reflective skills to discuss the concept of health as a psycho-social wellbeing. It will also in-cooperate an account of postnatal depression and its relationship with psycho-social wellbeing and health of a young woman following the birth of her first baby. An attempt will be made to define health; discuss the psychological and social aspects as it relates to health and wellbeing; examine briefly how lay people use the concept and how best the population can make of it.

Health has a variety of meanings which impacts on individuals and groups differently. Recent years have seen a widespread acceptance of a psycho-social model of health. The WHO (1948) as cited in Blaxter (2005) has developed a landmark definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

The concept of health as a psycho-social wellbeing hinges on this definition, but has also created controversial opinions amongst writers. The literature largely critize this definition for its lack of practical application (Cameron et al, 2008). Walker and John (2012) claim that even though it lacks coherence in predicting wellbeing in subjective terms (mental wellbeing) and objective terms (physical and social wellbeing) the concept of the definition is a marker for the first detailed equating of health with wellbeing in modern times.

Dines and Gibbs (1993) concludes that one may say that health is not being ill or health is wellbeing. Wellbeing as a concept of health integrates mental health (mind) and physical health (body) resulting to a more holistic approaches to disease prevention and health promotion (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).

Blaxter (2005) claims that in contemporary western societies the definitions holistic and social consciousness is most favoured. He claim that the element of subjective wellbeing does not make it less responsive to investigation and promotion. According to the Centers of Disease Control and prevention (2011)

Public Health initiatives have now moved beyond national boundaries and the use of psychological and social determinants have been explored to improve quality of life. Naidoo and Wills (2001) claimed that health has no simple linear model, but illness can be caused by a number of factors of which psychological and social plays a major part. The Department of Health (2010) in one report suggested that psycho-social wellbeing requires that “basic needs are met, that individuals have a sense of purpose, that they feel able to achieve important personal goals and participate in society”.

The concept of health and wellbeing stress that having social network is an important factor. This is because it strengthens relationships with family and friends as a well as allow participation in wider social groups and activities in the community (Department of Health, 2010). The ITV (2012) showcased in one of its soap operas the relationship between mental and social wellbeing of an actress who suffers postnatal depression following the birth of her first baby. The actress felt “inadequate, anxious, and emotionally tired”, and expressed this in her conversation with her partner.

She found it hard to be at home caring for the child who looks to her for love while she craves acceptance from the child as its mother. The ITV (2012) further highlights and advertise the situation as a Public Health concern to gain wide spread interest and debate. A final note to make is that Pilgrim (2006) claim that the psyco-social wellbeing of an individual is enhanced by conditions that include supportive personal relationships; a community that is strong and inclusive; employment that is rewarding and an environment that is attractive and healthy.

DescriptionReviewing the literature of the concept of health has brought back memories to the forefront of my thoughts about an experience I had with my sister. On one of my visits, 3 weeks following the birth of her first baby, I immediately observed that she appeared tired. Her hair and dress was unconventional and she wouldn’t say much. I asked her how they (her and baby) were doing.

She reported that she was up three to four times at night, changing and feeding him and she feels inadequate as a mother. She wished to go back to work early as suddenly she is stuck at home doing menial task for the baby. She felt her moter-in-law was bonding with the baby and she wasn’t. She further reported that she didn’t have the emotional strength to fight back.

She went quiet for a while and in that time I turned my attention to the baby while thinking about what she said. My emotions arose in me and I felt shocked, indifferent, tearful and sad. I then turned my attention to her, almost felling upset with her and questioned the fact that she was really looking forward to having the baby and her pregnancy was uneventful. I wanted to know what went wrong. I felt it was necessary to talk some sense into her.

ExpansionI noticed that I have felt like this on several occasion when at work. Making my feelings known and voicing my opinion is something that I don’t hesitate to do. My delayed response had allowed me to think about the situation and approach it cautiously. There had been times at work on the postnatal wards the clients would complain about the things that their babies would prevent them from doing. I thought, how unreasonable and unfair as the child didn’t ask to be part of this world. But with my professional hat on I questioned further to detect any early signs of postnatal depression.

AccountingI think all those emotions and feelings arouse in me because as I was growing up as a child I always thought about my mental health. As children, my sister and I were taught to be brave, strong, defiant, self-reliant and expressive. My concern for my sister’s mental health made me feel sad for her. My training as a midwife probably plays a part too. After all she is my sister and I didn’t like to think of her suffering from depression.

We have been confrontational at times but never about a situation that should have been a happy occasion. A lecturer in my present studies asked “What is it that keeps you emotionally strong and healthy?” (Personal Learning Diary, 12/10/12). I remembered the concept of Antonovsky – some of us survive better than others.

Denials and DistortionsEven though I can accommodate other people’s fears and anxieties, I believe I don’t always respond with a positive attitude.. I would only be letting go of my innate principles and beliefs. I realised that I have strong resources and in my head I began to list them. Perhaps the single most important variable was that in situations like this I would not be able to express my own thoughts and beliefs upon others, instead I have to be objective.

AcceptanceI am always conscious that my expressions physically and verbally can be intriguing for others. I can accommodate those feelings and emotions and have used them to question, empathise, advocate and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses. I can also assist others to cope with stressful situations.

ConclusionPsycho-social wellbeing as a concept of health has its impact on how people view their health. Only a small part of this has been discussed using cognitive and affective reflective skills. The first five stages of DEADACRE was used to explore my feelings and allow me to release my thoughts as it was intended.