Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University, Scotland, was invited to present on ‘What Causes Wellness? Research Priorities for Children and Young People’.
During his talk, Professor Burns stressed the complexities attached to the concept of ‘wellbeing’ and the detrimental effect societal problems can have on the health of entire communities. By describing his own experiences, alongside supportive research, Professor Burns provided a deep and interesting insight into the impact of psychosocial issues – including substance misuse, violence, suicide and accidents – on public health, and the need for Governments to place more focus and resources on the effects of social determinants on the wellbeing of its young people.
Interestingly, he introduced the term ‘salutogenesis’ (coined by Antonovsky) and used it to describe the importance of protective factors to best support health and well-being in children and young people. These included a nurturing family environment, a ‘sense of coherence’, hardiness, empathy and a high level of perceived control. Professor Burns placed special emphasis on the roles of physical activity, mindfulness and social connections/sense of community in protecting against – and even reversing the effects of – poverty, inequality and their associated risk factors.
Author: Beth Barker