Professor Dame Carol Black, University of Cambridge. Photo: University of Cambridge
Jun 13 2017 Posted: 12:55 IST

Minister of State for Health Promotion to deliver opening address at 2017 NUI Galway Health Promotion Conference - ‘Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace’

NUI Galway will hold the 21st annual Health Promotion Conference on Thursday 15 June. The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Association of Health Promotion Ireland will co-host this one-day event.

The conference will bring together policy, research and practice perspectives on promoting workplace health and wellness through fostering a culture of health and addressing change at all levels in organisations. In line with the World Health Organisations ‘Healthy Workplace Framework’, the ‘Healthy Ireland Framework’ and the current development of a National Healthy Workplace Framework, this year’s conference theme will discuss ‘Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace’.

Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, Minister of State for Health Promotion will deliver the opening address, and commented: “The development of the Healthy Workplace Framework is a priority for my Department under the Healthy Ireland banner, and it’s aimed at assisting employers in both private and public sectors to provide a healthy workplace. We know work is good for our health and the workplace offers the perfect opportunity to promote health to a large audience. With almost two million people in employment in Ireland, this message can reach over half the population. Healthy Ireland is all about taking steps towards making Ireland a healthier nation and promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace is an essential part of that.”

International and national keynote addresses will include Professor Dame Carol Black, University of Cambridge; Professor Paul Fleming, University of Southampton; Dr Paul Litchfield, British Telecom; Professor Anne Drummond, UCD; and Ms Biddy O’Neill, Department of Health. The conference programme comprises a mix of presentations, plenary lectures, workshops, and panel discussions from policymakers, researchers and practitioners alike.

Professor Dame Carol Black will be asking, ‘Why does workplace health and wellbeing matter?’ and said in advance of the event: “The workplace has a significant role in addressing major problems surrounding physical and mental health and in supporting people with long-term disorders, enabling as many as possible to fulfil their potential. Effective workplace interventions can bring tangible business benefits including reduced sickness absence, improved productivity, improved quality of service, and relative reduction in the health-care cost and burden. Employers need to recognise the importance of shaping workplace cultures and norms in which supporting and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all members of the workforce has the highest priority. To do this, workplaces must establish a strong cultural lead and example in organisations, and strengthen management training in order to recognise and respond to the health needs of the workforce, and working more closely with other health supporting agencies, particularly Occupational Health and Primary Care.”

This conference provides a platform in the exchange of ideas for research, policy and practice developments in workplace health promotion and wellness. It also provides the opportunity to explore how a culture of health and wellness in the workplace can be encouraged, measured and governed at all organisational levels.

Dr Margaret Hodgins, Head of the School of Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Chair of the annual conference, said: ‘The workplace is a priority setting for Health Promotion in the 21st Century. The workplace is where almost two thirds of adults spend almost two thirds of their waking time. Psychological and physical health issues, including work-related stress and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, are widespread in our modern-day workforce. For example, levels of workplace stress are increasing rapidly. Factors such as poor work-life balance, increasing workloads, the ‘long hours culture’, poorly designed shift work, lack of communication, and inadequate systems for dealing with bullying and harassment all impact on levels of work-related stress.”

For further information on the conference, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/hprc/.

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