Pillar 2: Mental Wellbeing
There are many different definitions of mental wellbeing, but they generally include areas such as life satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, mastery, feeling in control, having a purpose in life, and a sense of belonging and support. The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in the WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Self-awareness is the personal, practical application of an individual’s health knowledge (Pillar 1) to their own health situation; in other words, health literacy combined with the internalization of knowledge. This may involve personal or professional assessments, references to records, and tests. The result is a baseline assessment of their mental and physical state – that is, an individual’s health capital or health status ‘scorecard’.
Agency is the capacity and intention of an individual to take action based on their knowledge and awareness of their particular situation and condition – physical and mental.
Lack of Self-Awareness is the Cause of…
Insufficient understanding or motivation to improve one’s health situation will limit the potential gains that can be achieved through self-care. As with any long-term, challenging goal, if the benefits gained from self-care are not recognized, an individual’s motivation and drive may fade over time.
A lack of self-awareness and agency also plays a part in the slow, incremental loss of health that leads to many non-communicable diseases. No one becomes overweight or develops risk factors for non-communicable diseases overnight; these problems develop slowly over years of poor self-care and inadequate self-awareness.
Measuring Health Status
We know that it is important to measure and monitor health. But how do we do this? A person with good self-awareness of their health would know and have recorded the general metrics that track levels of health and disease. While a large list, in general, this should include knowledge of:
In addition, it is important to understand the way in which lifestyle factors contribute to disease and understand how your lifestyle affects your health and, thus, how it could be improved. To do this, assess:
Other useful information that forms part of a strong self-awareness of an individual’s health includes: