According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as the state of physical, mental and social well-being. Starting from this conception, health is an area that encompasses several disciplines that adopt as an object of study some of these previously proposed approaches. Taking this into account, the mental sphere tries to decipher through professionals in areas such as: neurology, neuropsychology, psychiatry and psychology; the latter is the one we will talk about this time.
Health psychology sometimes tends to be little known even by psychologists themselves, but once it is exercised in the healthcare field, it is very useful and beneficial when it comes to covering interdisciplinary or exclusively mental problems in patients who are in a health entity. Next we will talk a little more about its definition and areas of application to be able to exercise this branch of Psychology with the responsibility that it implies.
It is that branch of Psychology in charge of the health area, that is, the entire set of emotional, cognitive and behavioral factors that are related to the beginning, maintenance or recovery in cases of illness; starting from a main objective the maintenance of health in the individual.
In addition to this, another of the functions of a Health Psychologist is the design of an action plan that seeks to promote health, prevent disease, intervene during the rehabilitation of people in a state of disease, as well as optimize systems and health services and participate in the formulation of public policies on issues associated with mental health.
Finally, it should be noted that Health Psychology encompasses the study of factors such as: health education, healthy vs risky behaviors, psychological factors associated with the disease, stress (coping), among others. All this with the sole purpose of promoting quality of life both at the individual and community level..
At a general level, we can classify the fields of application of Health Psychology into 4 groups: promotion, prevention, evaluation - treatment - rehabilitation and analysis (or improvement) of the system.
When a psychology professional engages in promotional activities, this refers to informing and educating patients on relevant health issues, such as: sexual and reproductive health, vaccines, among others. In addition to this, it seeks to enhance and / or strengthen protective factors (that is, everything that prevents a person from getting sick), together with the generation of healthy lifestyles, participation in environmental health and citizen policies..
Regarding prevention, as its name indicates, the idea is to identify those factors that can produce a health problem, but that can be avoided; some of these can be: sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking, emotional problems, etc. All this is done through: control of attitudinal, motivational and emotional variables; modify risk behaviors and / or unhealthy environmental conditions, early detection of problems and prevention of relapses.
The third scope of this branch is the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of specific disorders such as cardiovascular, endocrine, eating, cancer, neuromuscular, and kidney diseases, among others. Covering at a general level any health condition of a chronic and / or terminal nature, that is, any disease that requires permanent management for the rest of their life or that pathological condition that at some point may lead to the death of the person..
Finally, the fourth area of application of Health Psychology is the analysis and improvement of the health care system, in which the professional ensures that the care provided at the health sector level is analyzed, studies what can be improved, educates users in the proper use of the entity's health system and trains healthcare, administrative and other professionals in certain specific skills that allow the user to feel satisfied with the service, for example the humanization of health services.
Health psychology is a branch of psychology that has an enormous impact on the provision of the service of a health entity, from the diagnosis of the patient to his treatment and subsequent recovery and / or follow-up. Thus, hospitals or clinics that have this figure offer a much more comprehensive care in the process of maintaining health and preventing disease..