Do we have to wait to be sick to start getting well?

well-being sign post.jpg

We live in interesting times.

For one of the first times in history most people in the West have their basic needs met for food, shelter and warmth.

It fascinates me then that in these circumstances as a population we are getting ‘sicker’: the big 3 killer diseases are on the rise: cancer, heart disease and diabetes – despite the knowledge that these conditions can be largely influenced by lifestyle.

Anti-depressant use is on the rise, it’s costing us more and yet more people report being depressed.

Moreover, some of the nations (including the UK) that spend the most on their health care systems do not have a population that is the most healthy.

Perhaps most disturbingly is that more and more of us are losing people we care about way too young.

Personally I go further and see the cost of us not being at our best as equally upsetting.

A recent interesting article in the Independent quoted NHS doctors and physiotherapists as saying:

“ We need to treat patients as a whole, not a collection of isolated problems”

And

“ GPs should give patients ‘wellness prescriptions’ “

The same article claimed that we waste £11 billion per year on preventable illnesses.

My point here, and I think it’s a point I share with many in the NHS, is that the system is failing. I believe it is failing because it’s a sick care system not a health care system. (I do not at all think it is failing because of the staff – to the contrary in my experience the NHS staff care a lot about the patients they serve. )

I mean that we wait way too long before we act positively for our health and well-being; we wait till we have a noticeable symptom before we actively take care of ourselves ( a generalisation, of course). It’s a system that seeks to, and I’m paraphrasing, eliminate or get rid of symptoms to return someone to how they were before the symptom occurred. It’s about restoring people; essentially going backwards in time.

I’d like to see the rise of a wellness care system, where people actively seek health care professional’s advice and input to help them optimise their health; seeking coaching and mentoring to take their health and quality of life to the next level for them. This system would be about getting some wisdom and feedback from our symptoms – recognising that the symptom is a call for change, rather than an annoyance to be gotten rid of. It would be a system about helping us move forwards, helping us to re-organise and heal.

This idea of re-organise and healing is being heralded in research as “an approach whose time has come”. I think that it is long overdue and it is what inspires me to create and organise the care we deliver at Thrive the way we do.

Simply put we’re interested in helping people to move forwards and to optimise their health and well-being….regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms.

It is a huge challenge because it means that as a profession and a discipline we need to step up our standards and ensure we have a way of delivering this outcome and measuring it.

My long point here :o) is that I think it’s time that as a culture we carefully examined and changed this idea that if I feel fine there is nothing wrong with me, or that we wait until something is disturbing us before we act.

I believe that we all have untapped health and well-being potential and that the journey to optimising it can begin now for us all.

To your health and well-being, optimised.

Krishan