As our lifestyles change, our eating habits do not remain the same. Human behavior plays a crucial part in this. Certain habits like smoking and drug abuse all lead to cause of death. However, psychology has the potential to present a better understanding of these health-damaging behaviors and their impact of this behavior on our mental and physical well-being. Many Public health professionals said that almost 70% of diseases are preventable. But how can health be connected to psychology? What role does psychology play in our health?According to Taylor, psychological sciences can make a huge impact on the prevention and treatment of chronic and acute illnesses. This psychological science is termed “health psychology.”
What is health psychology?
Health psychology, or medical psychology, is a subfield of psychology that tells about how our behavior, cognition, social, biological, and various psychological factors impact health and well-being. It also makes people health-conscious decisions like smoking, drinking, and drug abuse and motivates people to exercise to prevent any chronic illness.With the help of all this psychological and physical knowledge, health psychologist enhances health by identifying psychosocial factors.
Secondly, It designs various interventions by which a person can overcome illness or prevent it. Lastly, they educate their patients to make healthy choices like dieting, not eating junk foods, etc.
Generally, The most common topic on which patients come to health psychologists includes
- Quitting smoking skills
- Reducing stress and managing weights
- Eating healthy
- Preventing illness and improving recovers
- Coping skills learning
- Understanding illness and its effects
What do health psychologists do?
Many health psychologists work and study the causes of health problems and what could be the prevention for that illness.
Some of the main objectives of these psychologists include:
1. Understanding the Behavior and experiences of an individual:
They conduct various research by which one can improve their health. They work on ways that can reduce smoking or alcohol. It also contains some contextual factors as well like the socio-cultural, economic, and lifestyle factors that affect health. Many researchers also suggest study that people who work where there are a lot of psychological loads, then these people are at risk of cardiovascular diseases. They also ensure people adhere to disease treatment regimens and also help people to stay healthy by changing their health behaviors.
2. Preventing illness:
The health psychologist also aims to prevent illness as well. They try to improve people’s lives by running various programs and campaigns to create awareness about various illnesses. Most of the disease can be cured if caught at early stages. Many risky behaviors like unprotected sex can lead to very serious problems.
3. Creating awareness:
Health psychologists also aim to educate healthcare professionals, and physicians to communicate with patients and educate them in many ways that help them to overcome barriers like understanding and implementation strategies for reducing future health threats.
4. Helping out people suffering from long-term conditions:
Sometimes people who suffer from a serious illness face different difficulties apart from the illness and this includes meeting hospital bills, not having proper care taken from home, and getting a new unwanted identity as a sick person. All these lead to trauma, stress, and depression. Health psychologists through their therapy support people to improve their quality of life and adjust their life with their illness.
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5. Good Communication skills:
A therapist needs to have communication skills with their patients. A health psychologist trained to how to encourage their patients to quit smoking, manage their stress, etc. Health psychologists also train other healthcare professionals about breaking some bad news.
6. Biopsychosocial model treatment:
This model analyses the biological, psychological, and social factors of people because these 3 factors play a major role in one well-being. Now, that the times are changing, therefore, the cause of death is also changing constantly. Earlier many people due to infection like plague. Nowadays, many people die because of the unhealthy choices that they make in their lifestyles which lead to an overall negative impact on people’s lives.
What are the types of health psychology?
Just like other fields of health, psychology also has different areas, health psychology also has both applied and theoretical fields.
1. Clinical Health Psychology:
this field of health psychology involves the scientific knowledge and clinical questions that may arise in the healthcare industry. it is also a prevention-focused and treatment-oriented field of behavioral science and health.
2. Public Health Psychology
One of the important characteristics of this field of psychology is their intervention is more focused on the population who are at risk rather than taking the whole population as one. Being a population-oriented field of health psychology, it becomes important for them to investigate psychosocial and health links at the population level.
3. Community Health Psychology
In the community health psychology works more on the community levels and contributes towards their well-being. It develops community-level intervention to promote both physical wellbeing
4. Critical Health Psychology
This field of health psychology is more focused on the healthcare system, and experiences, and prioritizes the right to health for everyone regardless of their caste sex, religion, and socioeconomic status. These psychologists cannot be called simply analysts but agents of change.
Science Vs. Psychology
It has been seen many times that whenever people are given a certain choice between a simple choice and a complicated one, people often choose the complicated one. Our modern world has put more focus on genetics, and molecular biology, biotechnology, and many people invested millions of money in these methods of treatment.
It is important to note that genetics do play a great role when it comes to understanding any disease. On the other hand, sometimes behavioral technologies can also make an impact on people relatively at a low cost.
People think that a simple patient education can’t be reliable or may not achieve its goal. Many people tend to think that the diet program will make a major difference, but it produces only short-term benefits.
Therefore, health psychologists do play a major role in our society. They reduce confusion or anxiety by talking to them. Not only this, but they also aim to give mental support that a patient when they are already, suffering from illness.
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