Physical health and mental health
are closely connected. Mental health plays an important role in both the
way people behave and the way they feel. Emotionally healthy individuals
accept themselves as they are with all their weaknesses as well as their
strengths. They remain in contact with reality, and they are able to
deal with stress and frustration. They also act independently of outside
influences and show genuine concern for other people.
Experiences during childhood
strongly influence a person's mental health throughout life. An infant
is completely helpless at birth and must depend on its parents for all
its needs. Children remain dependant for many years, but they slowly
mature and learn to do things for themselves. They make many mistakes
during this long period of maturation. Through these errors, they learn
certain guidelines for relating to other people. Children thus
develop the knowledge necessary to deal with difficult situations in
life. This knowledge helps them maintain good mental health throughout
Emotional development does not end
when a person reaches adulthood. Similarly, an individual's mental
health continues to change from time from time. These changes result
from daily circumstances that cause either pleasure or pain for the
Handling stress is essential for
avoiding both mental and physical illness. Feelings of stress are the
body's response to any threatening or unfamiliar situation. Most severe
stress results from such serious events as a divorce or loss of job.
However, stress can occur even in pleasant situations, such as watching
a football game or waiting for a loved one to return from a trip. If not
handled properly, stress can lead to physical or emotional illness.
It may produce only mild symptoms, such as a cough, a headache, or a
rash. But severe and prolonged stress can contribute to serious health
problems, including high blood pressure and stomach ulcers.
No one can avoid stress, but a
person can do certain things to help lessen the danger of becoming ill
Regular exercise and sufficient
sleep strengthens the body's resistance to stress. Everyone should learn
to relax by resting, taking a walk, and meditating. One should also
consider working with a hobby, or by any other method that he or she
finds successful. When serious stress occurs, a person should determine
the source of the stress and try to eliminate or diminish it. Discussing
a problem with a friend, relative, or some other person may also help
3. Social Relationships
Social relationships have an
important influence on mental health. Close personal relationship with
friends and relatives provides opportunities for communication, sharing,
and emotional growth. Such relationships also can provide strength and
support for dealing with challenging situations or personal problems.
An individual's entire social
environment also affects his or her mental health. Such social problems
as poverty, racism, and overcrowding contribute to situations that
influence emotional health. As a result, social and economic changes are
needed to help reduce the rate of some types of mental illness.
The nature of health problems in
the United States and Canada has changed dramatically during the 1900's.
Until then, most people died from infectious diseases, such as
diphtheria or pneumonia. Today, however, infectious diseases are no
longer the main killers in the United States, Canada, and other
industrialized countries. Improved sanitation, immunization programs,
and the development of antibiotic drugs have brought these diseases
under control. Today, health specialists are concerned chiefly with
diseases related to the aging process, unhealthy lifestyles, and
1. Tobacco, Alcohol, and
According to the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services [HHS], cigarette smoking is the principle
cause of unnecessary and preventable illness and early death.
Heart disease and Lung cancer and other lungs diseases occur at a much
higher rate among smokers than among nonsmokers. Many individuals use
various drugs in an effort to solve their problems or to improve their
alertness, mood, or self-confidence. However, the regular use of
alcohol, narcotics, or sedatives can lead to addiction and also serious
damage to the body.
People may become psychologically
dependent on a wide variety of other drugs, including amphetamines,
cocaine, lsd, marijuana, and tranquilizers. These individuals may harm
themselves further by neglecting their health and nutrition. In
addition, drugs can distort a person's judgment and so increase the risk
Alcohol is the most widely abused
drug in the U.S.A. A person who drinks a lot and decides to give up
drinking can return to a healthy, productive, life.
2. Environmental Health
Environmental health hazards
cause by modern technology can produce serious problems. Air pollution
can worsen the condition of people who suffer such respiratory disease
as asthma and bronchitis. It may even help cause health hazards in some
areas, such as; insecticides and industrial waste contaminate food and
water supplies. Excessive noise can also threaten people's health. Noise
from airplanes, construction projects, and industrial plants can cause
hearing loss as well as emotional damage.
3. Occupational Health
Occupational health hazards can
threaten the health of many workers. In some cases, substances
involved in a person's job may cause long-term damage that appears only
after many years. For example, many coal miners develop a lung disease
called [pneumoconiosis], or black lung, from inhaling coal dust. Dust
also causes lung diseases among workers in the asbestos and cotton
industries. Some industrial chemicals can also causes cancer.
Public health includes all actions
taken to maintain and improve the general health of a community.
Government health programs provide most public health services. In
addition, many voluntary health agencies receive contributions to combat
specific diseases, such as cancer and lung diseases. These agencies
provide medical services, campaign for health legislation, and make
important contributions to health education. Another important function
of public health agencies is to provide health education to individuals,
groups, and organizations.