What are the dimensions of Health?

WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” In recent years, this statement has been amplified to include the ability to lead a ‘socially and economically productive life’.

The WHO definition envisages three specific dimensions- the physical, mental and social aspect of health and many more may be cited viz. spiritual, emotional, vocational and political dimensions.

Five dimensions of health are:

1. Physical Dimension

It is the easiest to understand. The state of Physical health implies the notion of ‘perfect functioning’ of the body. The signs of physical health in an individual are- a good complexion, a clear skin, bright eyes, lustrous hair, with a body with firm flesh not to fat, a sweet breadth, a good appetite, sound sleep, regular activity of bowel and bladder as well as smooth, easy coordinated bodily movement. All the organs of the body are of unexceptional size and function normally; all the senses are intact; the resulting pulse rate, blood pressure and exercise tolerance are all within the range of‘ normality’ for the individual’s age and sex. This state of normality has fairly wide limits, which are set by observing a large number of ‘normal’ people, who are free from evident disease.

2. Mental Dimension

Mental and physical dimension of health are inter-related. It is not the mere absence of mental illness. Good mental health is the ability to respond to the many varied experiences of life. Poor mental health affects physical well-being also and vice versa.

Psychological factors are considered to play a major role in disorders such as hypertension, peptic ulcer and asthma.

3. Social Dimension

Social well-being implies harmony and integration within the individual, between each individual and other members of the society and between individuals and the world in which they live. Social health of a community depends upon its progress, broad mindedness, consideration and sympathy towards other. It also depends upon the education, productivity, health and social security of its members.

4. Spiritual Dimension

Due to stresses and strains of modern life, it is very important for us to consider this dimension of health as well. An individual has to be at peace with himself, before he can be at peace with the world. Attention to moral values, ethics, exercise and meditation are some of the ways of attaining spiritual health.

5. Vocational Dimension

The vocational aspect of life is a new dimension. The importance of this dimension is exposed when individuals suddenly lose their job are faced with mandatory retirement. For many individuals, the vocational dimension may be merely a source of income. To others, this dimension represents the culmination of the efforts of other dimensions as they function together to provide what the individual consider in life ‘success’.

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