media; culture; society; politics; government; alternative; paper; TV; movies;
The World Health Organisation says "health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". In other words, everything that makes up your community, society and culture has an impact on your health. Let's look at that more closely…
You might well ask, "What has 'society' got to do with my health?” The fact is:
- where we live,
- the experiences we have,
- and the messages we get about who we are as individuals,
can very much affect our physical and mental health. Many examples of this were given to us by the young people we talked to.
- One young man told us how he worried about what he breathed in every day while he worked in a mine. He said the company regularly did checks in the mine, but this did not take away the worry that he and his colleagues had about their health.
- Young people in a small country town did not have access to a condom vending machine. This impacted on the choices those people had when it came to practising safe sex.
- People who were unemployed felt depressed because they could not get a job. There were just not enough jobs around!
- One young woman said she felt bad about how she looked because of all the images of ‘perfect’ bodies in magazines.
does society affect health?
Society means different things to different people. Here we are talking about the political, cultural, legal, and environmental framework that you live in. So your health is affected by all the rules, ideas, norms, guidelines, information and environments you encounter everyday.
This includes influences like:
- government policy decisions – eg. housing, safe work, education and training, where you can get help
- cultural values about things like gender, race, religious beliefs, ability, sexuality
- legislation and laws – eg. drink driving, wearing a seat belt, discrimination, drug laws, voting, at what age can you have sex
- media – eg. portrayal of "the perfect person", what "the truth" is, who controls the information you get
- the environment – eg. air pollution, temperatures, availability of foods
These are all things that have an impact on how we live our lives and look after our health.
Social well-being is when you:
- feel like you are a valued part of your community
- live in a safe and healthy environment
- feel like you have control of your life
- are able to make healthy choices.
to stay socially healthy!
Here are some tips to look after your social health.
- Think about what you have control over in your life.
- Take charge of your own life - make positive choices for yourself.
- Get involved in your community, join a group and meet like-minded people.
- Don't believe everything you hear - be prepared to question what you see on TV, on movies, in the newspaper and what you hear on the radio.
- Get informed about issues that affect you. Try some alternative media like the Big Issue magazine or some internet sites - see resources below.
- Get out of the house and do as much as you can with other people.
- Keep up with political decisions or other changes in your community. Prepare yourself for how they might impact on you.
- Give positive health messages to yourself and the people you interact with.
- Challenge violence and abuse in your community.
- Use laws and processes to make sure your right to a safe environment is upheld.
- Support others and make sure you get support yourself.
- Respect yourself and others for your individuality and uniqueness.
- Do all you can to look after the environment.
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).