Back for more, huh? Well I've only posted once here already; so I'm sure you're expecting something good from me...
Well here are the 'goods': I want to start this post by talking about the 'narrative' that I want to build when talking about health and health care on this site—that is, creating a relevant, meaningful account of how we experience health right now, and how we can collaborate on building a new vision of health for the (near) future.
What does that future look like? For me, it means that we, as a society, continue to make choices that help move us closer to a model of healthful living where we see the best version of ourselves—whether that's realized physically, mentally or spiritually—and where the sum of our individual health related achievements (since our health goals may differ between us) amount to a net positive change in the health of our community.
Sounds a bit 'fluffy', doesn't it? Well, it doesn't have to...there are a lot of great examples of how we are making strides towards a future that looks similar to what I just described. Do you remember the anti-bullying campaigns of the past few years? Or the addition of more healthy food choices on fast-food menus? These are examples of how we, as a society, have responded to problems affecting our health. In the case of anti-bullying campaigns, it was tragic outcomes, like child and youth suicides, that eventually motivated people to take a stand against bullying and propelled legislative bodies to create laws to help tackle the problem. In the latter example of fast food menus, it was a growing concern that such foods were contributing to a rising 'epidemic' of obesity and diabetes that eventually brought consumers, concerned health providers, and regulators to demand healthier choices.
These are just a two of many examples of how we've come to recognize harms to our health and have made efforts to address them. Sometimes such efforts come quickly, like through a critical mass of people talking about a harm on social media that moves the hand of lawmakers. Often these discussions happen over a number of years before action is taken. Think of how long it took to put restrictions on tobacco and tobacco related products, even after academic literature proved that there was a linkage to harm.
What's consistent in these examples is that society decides on actions that either positively or negatively affect our health. There were a number of years when smoking was encouraged by the medical community while the risks of doing so were not well known or studied. But now, there is an almost pervasive belief that smoking is related to a multitude of harms to health. It took many years in-between, but eventually society made a choice to reduce the harms of smoking through more stringent regulation.
So we do and can change our minds when it comes to making positive choices regarding our health. And that's precisely what I want to get at with this post: like any good story, we go through periods of hardship before eventually finding our way to triumph!
In my next post, I'll continue building this narrative by explaining why I differentiate between 'health' and 'health care' for the purposes of our discussion on this site.