Summary: Focusing on your well-being can help improve both physical and mental health, especially for those with chronic medical conditions.
Source: Swansea University
The importance of wellbeing and its role in health has been highlighted in a new paper by Swansea University academics.
GENIAL Science, co-founded by Professor Andrew Kemp, of the School of Psychology, is a collaborative research project between Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB) and the University. Comprised of academics, clinicians, Ph.D. and MSc students, it is committed to advancing wellbeing theory and practice.
Professor Kemp said: “Society faces several major interrelated challenges which have an increasingly profound impact on global health and it is incumbent on us in the university and research sector to work towards overcoming such challenges in order to promote individual, community and planetary health and wellbeing.
“We have identified the importance of promoting wellbeing when seeking to improve health, especially in regards to people living with chronic conditions whose conditions must be managed, and for whom cure is seldom an option.”
In the paper Professor Kemp and consultant clinical psychologist Dr. Zoe Fisher, of the University’s Health and Wellbeing Academy, outline the transdisciplinary GENIAL framework they have developed to help understand and improve ‘whole health.’
Professor Kemp said: “We show how our theory has been applied to improve ‘whole health’ in various populations including university students and people living with chronic conditions.”
The paper has just been published in journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine and outlines how GENIAL science has led to:
A reframing of the complex construct of wellbeing—often described as a ‘wicked problem’—facilitating otherwise missed opportunities;
An enhanced student experience through a wellbeing science module offered in the School of Psychology that seeks to promote a sense of connection to self, others and nature; and,
Improved health and wellbeing through strategic partnerships, overcoming entrenched siloed working that has previously restricted opportunities for improving health and wellbeing.
The team’s work, funded by Health and Care Research Wales, led to Dr. Fisher recently picking up the prestigious Advancing Health Care award for Outstanding Contribution to Research Delivery.
Professor Kemp added: “We have laid the foundations for a transdisciplinary scientific model of wellbeing that offers hitherto under-realized potential for promoting the ‘whole health’ of individuals, communities and nature, contextualized by many of the major challenges now facing humanity including the climate catastrophe.”
Wellbeing, Whole Health and Societal Transformation: Theoretical Insights and Practical Applications
Society faces several major interrelated challenges which have an increasingly profound impact on global health including inequalities, inequities, chronic disease and the climate catastrophe.
We argue here that a focus on the determinants of wellbeing across multiple domains offers under-realised potential for promoting the ‘whole health’ of individuals, communities and nature. Here, we review recent theoretical innovations that have laid the foundations for our own theoretical model of wellbeing – the GENIAL framework – which explicitly links health to wellbeing, broadly defined.
We emphasise key determinants across multiple levels of scale spanning the individual, community and environmental levels, providing opportunities for positive change that is either constrained or facilitated by a host of sociostructural factors lying beyond the immediate control of the individual (e.g. social cohesion and health-related inequities can either promote or adversely impact on wellbeing, respectively). Following this, we show how the GENIAL theoretical framework has been applied to various populations including university students and people living with neurological disorders, with a focus on acquired brain injury.
The wider implication of our work is discussed in terms of its contribution to the understanding of ‘whole health’ as well as laying the foundations for a ‘whole systems’ approach to improving health and wellbeing in a just and sustainable way.