Promoting Wellbeing: What Works? – Charlie Woods

I recently attended a conference organised by ‘What Works Wellbeing’, which looked at the emerging evidence of what promotes wellbeing and quality of life for individuals and society more generally. The conference was organised around the themes of the What Works programme – work and learning, culture and sport, communities and cross cutting methods.

The idea behind a wellbeing focus is that it goes beyond narrow measures of economic output. Scotland’s National Performance Framework illustrated below is an excellent example of just such an approach.

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Capitalism in the Age of Robots – Charlie Woods

Capitalism in the age of robots

In April this year Adair Turner (Chair of the Institute for New Economic Thinking) gave a speech entitled “Capitalism in the age of robots: work, income and wealth in the 21st century.” In it Turner argued that the rapid and unstoppable development of automation—based on robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning—will have profound implications for how we live and work over the next fifty to a hundred years.

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Creative Communities: Making the Invisible Visible through Creative Expression of Mental Wellbeing in Land and Sea Communities

This innovative programme seeks to create new modes of expression to address, communicate, and share the often obscured challenges of people experiencing (or affected by) mental ill-health.  Focusing particularly on the rural areas of Scotland, from land-based to maritime communities, it will explore how to develop an increased sense of personhood and collective wellbeing in these frequently invisible communities.  It seeks to understand how the resilience of rural communities and the wellbeing of individuals can be enhanced if mental health issues are expressed, shared and addressed more widely.  Its overarching aims are to inform the Scottish Government Rural and Mental Health Policy development, and to contribute more generally to the Mental Health agenda in Scotland by reflecting the lived experience expressed by citizens.

Programme Team:

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam (The Glasgow School of Art), Design Innovation.
Professor Chris Speed (Edinburgh College of Art), Chair of Informatics.
Professor Stewart Mercer (University of Glasgow), Chair in Primary Care Research.
Professor Sarah Skerratt (Scotland’s Rural College), Director of SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre.
Dr Jane Atterton (Scotland’s Rural College) – Rural and regional development issues, rural economies and businesses.
Dr Tara French (The Glasgow School of Art) – Psychology and Design Innovation.
Dr Mafalda Moreira (The Glasgow School of Art) – Amplified Design Mindset, human-centred and strategic design.
Dr Cheryl McGeachan (University of Glasgow) – Human Geographer, historical and cultural geographies of mental ill-health.

Wellbeing: increasingly a crucial public policy goal

SUII Director, Charlie Woods, discusses the continued attention being dedicated to conceptions of wellbeing in research, policy and practice.

SUII Director, Charlie Woods, discusses the continued attention being dedicated to conceptions of wellbeing in research, policy and practice.

It has been four years since our themed programme on wellbeing (summarised here), which looked at the insights from taking a wider wellbeing approach to public policy and practice. Over this period, there has been a steady increase in interest in promoting wellbeing as a policy objective. This note highlights a couple of recent examples.

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Reducing harm and promoting wellbeing amongst people who have housing, health and substance use challenges

The seminar series entitled ‘An international and intersectional dialogue on how to reduce harm and promote wellbeing amongst people who have housing, health and substance use challenges’ started on the 27th of November in the Scottish Universities Insight Institute premises in Glasgow. For any member of an organising committee, there is always a certain degree of nervousness on the first day of an event. However, this was one occasion where the atmosphere was relaxed and conducive to interesting conversations from the very beginning.

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New Programme – Reducing harm and promoting wellbeing amongst people who have housing, health and substance use challenges

In the fourth of our introductions to the new programmes, Dr Tessa Parkes, Dr Hannah Carver, and Dr Fiona Cuthill provide a bit more detail on their new programme.

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Statistics, wellbeing and policy

In the week that we celebrated World Statistics Day it seems fitting to reflect back on what I learned recently at the OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Mexico. The forum was the fifth of its kind over the last decade that have focussed on the need for better measures and policies for societal progress. This year, the strapline, ‘Transforming Policy, Changing Lives’ signalled a move forward from simply measuring progress, to translating these measures into policy and practice.

The conference highlighted that much work has been done in recent years to develop robust indicators and collect data on wellbeing across different countries, and there was a strong sense that wellbeing is now part of a mainstream agenda, backed by evidence and data. This is coupled with a growing international acceptance of the need to move beyond GDP as the sole measure of progress. Continue reading “Statistics, wellbeing and policy”