Published on February 21, 2014
What does sociology need to contribute towards or against the well-being agenda? BSA Mental Health Study Group symposium 10th June 2013 Lydia Lewis Study Group co-convenor firstname.lastname@example.org
Purpose To provide a space for critical sociological discussion of the current UK government ‘wellbeing’ agenda and its implications.
Origins of the wellbeing agenda in schools (Coleman, 2009) Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence (1996) Levels of mental health problems in children and young people and associated costs Growing international movement for mental health promotion in schools in countries such as Australia and North America UK policy development under New Labour concerned with addressing social inequalities and social exclusion.
What is well-being? Theoretically-informed research, two components: hedonic wellbeing - happiness, life satisfaction and interest in life eudaimonic wellbeing - optimal psychological functioning, positive relationships with others and personal growth. NICE (2008): Emotional - feelings Psychological -characteristics such as resilience and coping skills Social - understanding and managing social relationships Friedli (2011a) subjective well-being - how we feel about ourselves and our lives social well-being - relationships and connections sense of meaning or purpose
But definitional problems remain ... Mental wellbeing has become prominent in policy circles and in public discourse more generally, and in many areas, including health, public policy, social studies and work. Wellbeing is also presented as a general indicator of social and communal stability. However, there is still significant confusion in theory, policy and practice about how wellbeing, and other connected terms, such as, happiness, satisfaction, resilience, fulfillment and flourishing, and communal terms, such as stability, sustainability and assets, should be understood. (Weich and Tew, 2013)
Five ways to wellbeing (NEF, 2011)
Some further points of critique Assets agenda – ‘psycho-social roll call’; material inequalities risk being ignored (Friedli, 2011) Promotes blaming people for their own disadvantage (ibid) Universal approach detracts attention from those most in need Medicalisation of learning (Lewis, 2012) Detracting from other curriculum areas Teaching well-being implies an emotional deficit (Ecclestone and Hayes, 2008) Are social and emotional and academic ‘effectiveness’ in schools necessarily complementary? (see Gray, 2012)
Programme 12.30-12.45: Introduction to the day 12.45-2.00. Session 1 Reinserting the social and the holistic: moving beyond individuals and diagnosis to a sociology of (mental) wellbeing, Dr Cath Quinn, Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry Intersections in Innovation; mindfulness-based therapies as part of the wellbeing agenda, Kate Spiegelhalter, University of Sussex. 2.00-2.20: BREAK 2.20-4.00pm: Session 2 Developing resilience in educational settings: Challenging policy discourses of ‘risk’ and ‘vulnerability’, Professor Kathryn Ecclestone, University of Sheffield. Governance and the excluded citizen; tensions among housing practitioners and the wider community, Allison Savory, Buckinghamshire New University. To make an army of illness? The politics of well-being, Dr Helen Spandler, UClan 4.00-4.10: BREAK 4.10-4.30: Overview, general discussion and close.
References Aked, J. and Thompson, S. (2021), Five Ways to Wellbeing, New applications, new ways of thinking. NHS Confederation and NEF. Cole man, J. (2009), Wellbeing in schools, empirical measure or politician’s dream? Oxford Review of Education, 35(3): 281-92. Ecclestone, K. And Hayes, D. (2008), The dangerous rise of therapeutic education, London, Routledge. Friedli, L. (2011a), What we know about: mental health and wellbeing, In J. Foot (Ed.), What makes us healthy? The asset approach in practice: evidence, action, evaluation. Local Government Group: London, pp. 12-15. Friedli, L. (2011b), Always look on the bright side: The rise of assets based approaches in Scotland, Scottish Anti-Poverty Review, Winter, 11-15. Gray, J. (2012). Wellbeing Matters Too. Research Intelligence, 117, 30. Lewis, L. (2012), The capabilities approach, adult community learning and mental health, Community Development Journal, 47 (4): 522-537. NICE (2008), Promoting young people’s social and emotional well-being in secondary education: consultation on the evidence. London, NICE. Weich, S. and Tew, J. (2013), Mental Wellbeing, Public Mental Health and Recovery. Application for a MHRN Local Clinical Research Group.
What does sociology need to contribute towards or against . ... mindfulness-based therapies as part of the well-being agenda . ... Lydia.email@example.com or ...
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