Psychology Of Health And Wellness Essay


Discuss about the Psychology of Health and Wellness.



The recent perspective on health and wellness is that it includes more than the biological factors of pathology and illness. Health and wellness involves balancing of various aspects of an individual. These include physical, psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, and occupational domains. The essay examines the biopsychosocial factors that influence health and wellness and provides a critical analysis of the general responses to health and wellness issues. The essay explains the current framework used for maintenance of health and wellbeing.

Health or being healthy does not signify the absence of disease and infirmity. According to the World Health Organization, health represents the state of “physical, mental and social well-being” (Glanz and Bishop, 2010, pg 405). It includes both the aspects that are the absence of the disease, as well as the wellbeing in the mental, physical and social areas. Apart from the absence of disease, some other aspects are required for improving and strengthening our physical health. Even with the presence of illness, maintain a proper nutrition diet, healthy activities, adequate weight and rest can also achieve a good physical health.

According to Huber et al., (2011), wellness refers to a state where an individual frequently experiences positive emotions, finds his/her life as satisfactory, and demonstrates the ability to adapt to psychological, social changes and function in the environment which is disturbed with the rise of stress and leads to a development of diseases (Ghaemi, 2010).

Illness, although used synonymously with the disease, is not the same concept. According to (Sutton, 2010), illness represents the disturbed state of balance and sustainable relationship between an individual and the environment he/she is living. It is a state, where a person is unable to create or maintain a high quality lifestyle. It contains a subjective element and is referred to as less-than-healthy state of a person, or state of decreasing wellness (Ryff, 2013).

The disease is the condition where an individual fails to adapt the mechanism of adequately counteracting the stimuli and stresses. Consequently, it gives rises to functional and structural disturbances (McBride et al., 2010). According to Glanz and Bishop, (2010), there are three types of diseases existing which include: malnutrition related dietary diseases, infectious diseases caused by pathogens and chronic diseases persisting since a long time. The ability of a person to function and the aspects related to the emotional, social, and intellectual condition can be disturbed by illness and disease (Lovallo, 2015). In the subsequent sections, the essay will discuss the biopsychosocial factors that impact on health and wellness.

An individual’s health and wellness experiences differ due to several factors that are categorized into biological, psychological, emotional and social factors (Ghaemi, 2010). Collectively these factors are called as biopsychosocial model. These factors are essential for health assessment as an individual may experience illness due to any of these factors. With this recently developed model, the medical professionals do not focus merely on the “physical aspects" of illness or disease but the social and psychological aspects as well. According to George Engel, the illness of an individual is due to interplay of biological aspects as well as the social context in which he or she lives. The other factors are genetic in nature which combines with the biological functioning, cognition (learning, problem solving, remembering and thinking), emotions, and relationships with family, community, and society and motivation to impact the health and wellness of an individual (?lvarez et al., 2012). It will be discussed in the later sections.

The social dimension of health is the ability to interact and accept diversity. Social and environmental settings are vital to improving social health. Poor social health results in neurotic illnesses such as stress. Several research studies have provided the evidence of the social interaction being significant in overcoming illness (Sutton, 2010). Therefore, “social health” is crucial for human health and well-being. However, the “emotional dimension” of health is also known to profoundly impact one’s health. The capacity of an individual to cope, adjust and adapt to challenges and changes is the state of being in control of one's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Lovallo, 2015). Throughout the lifespan of an individual, socioeconomic aspect greatly affects the health and wellness. This aspect is the new model developed for public health. It refers to both psychological and a social factor which affects an individual in different ways. Literature research provides evidence that poor social and economic condition in childhood makes adulthood less healthy (Ryff, 2013). The impact on health due to biopsychosocial factors is explained in the next section.

The role played by the biopsychosocial factors is explained with the help of a case study of an adolescent with weight issues. Mr. X has the sweet tooth, thereby, excessively consume sweet foods. It started since his childhood where his being a single child; his parents always pampered him with chocolates and lollies. Their misconception was that a healthy child is one with chubby cheeks. Mr. X grew up with the sedentary lifestyle, consuming the high-fat diet. His family mainly consumed meals containing high calories. He eventually grew as fat boy less engaged in physical activity and more in indoor games, watching television and consuming more snacks. Mr. X is currently 20 years old and suffers from obesity.

The above-discussed condition of Mr. X could be avoided if only his parents were more aware of the importance of eating fruits between meals, walking, engaging a child in exercises and sports. If parents are mindful of the fact that one of the family members has the craving for sweet food, then they could avoid giving it to X considering it may be a genetic issue or believed that healthy behavior could eliminate the inherited factors. This case study explains how different factors combine to impact health since an early age of a person. It is the scenario with a majority of the children in UK, who are highly represented in obesity cases (Hilton et al., 2012).

The psychosocial factors contributing to illness can be explained with the example of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The majority of the Indigenous populations are represented in alcohol and drug abuse as well as in mortality and morbidity (Carter et al., 2011). The factors contributing to this condition were found to be the loss of land, racial discrimination, social isolation, history of mental trauma, physical, verbal and alcohol abuse by parent and community members (Lea et al., 2015). These stress indicators are carried in present generation as well. Several Aboriginal children are devoid of parental care, emotional support, and experience violence in the family (Lea et al., 2015). These children in their adolescence adapted malpractices, such as drug abuse and quit education. In several cases, the childhood history revealed sexual exploitation by one of the parents. Research is evident of a development of schizophrenia and other forms of mental disorder among majority of Aboriginal adolescents. Most of the cases of pregnancy and miscarriages were also associated with mental trauma (Dunkel, 2011).

So far it is apparent from the above discussion that the health and wellness are influenced by physiological functioning and genetic factors. However, the literature provides an evidence of the role played by psychological and behavioral responses that place an individual on the continuum of illness/wellness. According to Sutton, (2010), cognitive factors (learning, problem solving, remembering and thinking) and emotions (pleasant, anger, fear, joy), forms the part of the psychological contribution. The preference of an individual to behave in a particular way is due to the motivation which links the psychological and behavioral response.

Health-protective behavior relates to activities that are performed by an individual to maintain good health. For example, some people participate in meditation, yoga and exercises to prevent obesity, coronary heart disease, and other chronic conditions. These people maintain the healthy diet and less experience illness and disease. According to Wiedemann et al., (2011), individuals who are health anxious, show characteristic behavioral (seeking reassurance) and cognitive response (misinterpretation of information). The style of thinking about things influences how human appraise and respond to situations and determines if he/she will be pessimistic or optimistic in nature (Sarafino and Smith, 2014). An individual with upbeat attitude have the ability to bring a positive change and enjoys good health and well-being. A person with passive behavior is always vulnerable to the adverse situation, uncertainty and suffers from poor health. Health protective behavior can be due to experiences of illness or just anxiety and fear of disease. These experiences determine health and wellness issues and development of “cognition and behavior” and the consequences of such responses for illness in future (McBride et al., 2010).

Conclusively, health and wellness are not merely affected by biological factors rather several psychological and behavioral factors combine to produce the effect. Additionally, Cognitive, emotional, social factors and relationships are also key players in health and wellness. A state of good health and well-being is a perfect balance of all the factors.


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