What is the Relationship Between my Physical Health and Mental Health? Why Does it Matter?
In the 1970s/1980s, Drs. Engel and Romano developed the Biopsychosocial model. This model addresses the patient's biological, psychological, social factors, and the interactions among them that impact the health and illness of a patient. Engel judged the previous Biomedical model as "excessively narrow" in focus due to its regard for patients as objects (without considering individual differences or social environment). The Mind-Body connection is another important concept. Research studies demonstrate a mind-body connection in which the central nervous system and the body are constantly communicating and are able to influence one another. For example, negative thoughts and beliefs about an upcoming medical appointment can create anxiety and result in an elevated blood pressure reading before the visit.
It can be hard to prevent or separate thoughts and emotions from affecting physical health and well-being, and vice versa. Thoughts, feelings, and beliefs play a very strong role in our motivation and experience to do things that are helpful for our health.
(Figueroa, Phelan, & Orav, et. al.; Journal of American Medicine, 2020)
The following organizations represent just a few that recognize the necessity to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of physical health, illness, and wellness in patient care.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." (World Health Organization Constitution, 1948)
"Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.. Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors." (International Association for the Study of Pain, 2020)
"Emotional health is a critical part of our commitment to help those living with diabetes thrive, since it is a contributing factor to both better diabetes clinical outcomes and overall quality of life." (American Diabetes Association, on the release of the ADA "Diabetes and Emotional Health Guide, 2021)
This work is critical to increase public awareness of disease prevention and management and address mental health stigma.
*Research shows that lifestyle changes result in similar or greater reduction of risk for death due to heart disease than risk reduction by preventive medication interventions (Iestra et al, 2005).