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Postcards from Scotland

Nations, culture and well-being

Surgeon's Hall, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW
Thursday, 26th March 2009, 1.30 - 4.15

This half-day event looked at national culture and its role in personal and collective well-being. The first speaker was Nic Marks, Head of the Centre for Well-being at the New Economics Foundation in London and co-author of the National Accounts of Well-being. The second speaker was Dr Jim White, a consultant clinical psychologist in Glasgow who talked about his experience of working in the east end of Glasgow. Finally Professor Phil Hanlon from the University of Glasgow reflected on the input from the two previous speakers as well as drawing on his own research into culture and well-being.  The event was chaired by Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being.

Programme Content

Nic Marks  National Accounts of Well-being: bringing real wealth onto the balance sheet
Nic gave background information on the limitations of using economic indicators, such as GDP as a measure of social progress and the background to these accounts. He explained the definition of well-being used in the National Accounts and how it combines individual and societal dimensions of well-being. Scandinavian countries score high overall on well-being while Central and European countries like Ukraine and Bulgaria are low. The UK is middle of the league table and the report shows worryingly low levels of 'trust and belonging'.  Nic reflected on what the data says about the type of culture, values and societal structures which are good for enhancing personal and collective well-being and the implication which this research may have for policy makers.

There was an opportunity for questions and discussion following Nic's talk and the next two speakers were also asked to say something about whether they think there are differences between Scotland andthe picture which emerges for the whole UK in this report.

Dr Jim White   Improving mental well-being in Scotland
Jim talked about his experience of working in south east Glasgow in a deprived area. Jim has extensive experience with CBT and explain how he has used this in educational and self-help settings. He also explained why the STEPS project which he heads up has particularly focused on stress and what he believes are the important mental health and well-being messages for the community in which he works and its relevance to other parts of Scotland.

Professor Phil Hanlon   Scotland, well-being and culture
Phil is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow and is a Board member at the Centre for Confidence and Well-being. He has also undertaken considerable research into the impact of culture on well-being. He has also written about what he calls 'the Scottish effect'. Phil gave us some of his deliberation on the previous two speakers as well as his own research. 
                                                                                                                                                         Access the document below for a Power point presentation by Nic Marks from the New Economics Foundation and also the Power Point presentation from Jim White has been divided into two sections which can be found below.


 Nic Mark's presentation 2008 (4,681 KB)
 Jim White part 1 (15,045 KB)
 Jim White part 2 (19,247 KB)

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