The Oxford Dictionary defines “health” as “the state of being free from illness or injury” or “a person’s mental or physical condition”.
I have always been interested in health and this interest has shaped my life. My interest has influenced my personal actions to ensure my own health and wellbeing. This has evolved over the years but the value I have placed on attempting to maintain my own health by taking responsibility for the same has remained constant. Many of the things that I do every day result in my current state of health and my general good health over my lifetime.
On the professional side of my life I have dedicated many years to the study of health. I undertook this in examining the health care and other human services systems and in conducting research on the same. This work involved talking with people, conducting research projects, finding and reading research articles, thinking about, analyzing and writing countless reports recommending potential improvements for human service systems. My work had me examining human service systems across the age spectrum from birth to death and gave me the opportunity to look at programs and services designed for babies, children, youth, adults, and seniors. Over the years the areas of health, mental health, addictions, continuing care, disability services, education, children services and justice were covered in the many projects I completed. My “specialty” area came to be mental health and addictions which gave me a chance to consider these areas of “health” extensively.
This comprehensive work provided me an inside look at the human service systems: how they operate; how they are structured; how priorities are set; and who sets them. This included working with the government and their departments, the service providers and the people who use these systems. This inside knowledge gives me a slightly different perspective on these systems. This knowledge has identified a number of questions in my mind and has led me to challenge some of the common thinking about these systems. It has also moved me away from working in the system in the same way as I did in the past.
I remain keenly interested in “health”. The dilemma I have encountered and have been able to decipher is that there is a definitive disconnect between pursuit of personal health and the systems established and heavily funded to support the health of the population. Individuals, like me, who take action to remain healthy and the “health care systems” seem to be on completely different paths. I want to focus on this topic because of the questions that I have about the “healthcare” and other human service systems as they are currently structured and function. In previous posts I have written that the healthcare system would be more aptly called the “illness industry”. I will explorethe apparent disconnect between this “illness industry” and what I will refer to as “real health” in my upcoming posts.
Irene McDermott © 2012