Universal definitions Some attempts to universally define ‘wellness’ in the context of mental health include:➢“Astate of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” - World Health Organization ➢“Wellness involves a set of life skills that promote well-being and help to prevent the onset of illness as well as social policies that reduce exposure to risks –such as toxic stress and trauma. For individuals who have become ill, wellness seeks to shorten the duration of illness and the disability that may result from it.” - Mental Health America ➢“Wellness no longer means merely being free of disease; it also means living well–that is, relatively free of pain and suffering. Wellness also means having a life worth living. Medical definitions of wellness have expanded to encompass both the quality and the functioning of a person’s life.” –The Family Guide to Mental Health Care. In these universal definitions, some aspects are consistent. This includes the idea that wellness is about more than the absence of symptoms, but also about leading a life that is fulfilling. Individual interpretations What makes life fulfilling, is less easy to define universally. This is a subjective concept and the aspect of wellness that is individual to each person. When discussing wellness with a service user, therefore, you are attempting to establish: ➢How the person defines ‘fulfilment’➢How the person is when they are well, e.g. behaviours, moods, relationships, etc. ➢Things that are significant to the person, e.g. relationships, religion/spirituality, social inclusion, etc. ➢Anything else that the person associates with being well or being fulfilled.
Page 30 This document is the property of and confidential to INT Nurse Training. It must not be copied, loaned or transferred, nor the information it contains be disclosed to any third party without the written consent of INT. Whole of life understanding A whole of life understanding relates to the idea that wellness is more than just a lack of symptoms. It is an entire spectrum of wellbeing –mental, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, etc. Tools for defining wellness Certain tools may be used to help the service user define their interpretation of wellness. These may include: ➢A wellness toolbox –a list created by the service user of things they do when they are well or things that make them feel well ➢Recovery star –a recovery star can be used to help a person assess their wellness across multiple areas of their life, building on the idea that wellness applies to the whole of a life and not just mental health.