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health (helth)

1. The state of the organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease or abnormality. 2. A state of dynamic balance in which an individual's or a group's capacity to cope with all the circumstances of living is at an optimum level. 3. A state characterized by anatomical, physiological, and psychological integrity, ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biological, psychological and social stress; a feeling of well-being; and freedom from the risk of disease and untimely death. [A.S. haelth] From the Old English hal, meaning whole, the term has been variously defined among health specialists. In 1948, the World Health Organization described health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease." This definition was, in turn, criticized as unquantifiable. In 1984, WHO advanced a revised statement that any measure of health must take into account "the extent to which an individual or a group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment." Health in this sense is seen as a "resource for everyday life." Health also involves an ability to perform within society, and to accommodate stresses, whether physical or mental. From an ecological viewpoint, the relative health of a group is evaluated according to whether that group might sustain its existence over time without major disruption to its own way of life or to the environment within which it functions.
behavioral h. an interdisciplinary field dedicated to promoting a philosophy of h. that stresses individual responsibility in the application of behavioral and biomedical science knowledge and techniques to the maintenance of h. and prevention of illness and dysfunction by a variety of self-initiated individual and shared activities.
h. education process by which individuals and groups learn to behave in a manner conducive to promotion, maintenance, or restoration of health.
mental h. emotional, behavioral, and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioral disorder; a state of psychological well-being in which the individual has achieved a satisfactory integration of his or her instinctual drives acceptable to both himself and his social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits.
public h. the art and science of community health, concerned with statistics, epidemiology, hygiene, and the prevention and eradication of epidemic diseases; an effort organized by society to promote, protect, and restore the people's health; public h. is a social institution, a service, and a practice.


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