An outstretched hand touching bark of a tree

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, PhD 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-realised potential for promoting the ‘whole health’ of individuals, communities and nature, contextualised by many of the major challenges now facing humanity including the climate catastrophe.”

Read the paper Wellbeing, Whole Health and Societal Transformation: Theoretical Insights and Practical Applications in full

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