Healthier

Healthier

Our strategic plan defines Healthier as: ‘identify and tackle health and wellbeing challenges.’ Our activities which encompass this theme facilitate productive conversations and access to educational resources within local communities around health and wellbeing challenges; provide platforms to enable local communities to better communicate their health priorities; and influence the wider health and wellbeing agenda in Scotland.

YAS is also interested in the role of the food and drink industry in the area of health.

Explore our work

COVID-19 blog series

COVID-19 has had profound impacts on all sectors of society, with further ripple effects to come in the medium and long term. Through a series of blogs, YAS members have been analysing how the pandemic has affected different people, places, professions and practices. From healthcare to democracy, refugee communities to research groups, we have looked not only at the impact so far but also at what changes in behaviour and practice might result or be required.

HOPE (Healthy, Optimal Periods for Everyone)

HOPE is a website all about periods and menstrual health. It was created by an interdisciplinary team of YAS members and University of Edinburgh Staff, led by Dr Jacqueline Maybin, to inform and educate everyone about menstruation.

Despite 51% of the population being female and one in four of those who menstruate suffering with problematic periods, talking about menstruation remains a taboo subject.If you are lucky enough to have no troublesome menstrual symptoms, it is very likely that your friend, mother, sister, daughter or partner will. Menstrual disorders negatively impact on physical, mental, social and economic health. Some people with menstrual disorders require blood transfusion, others cannot leave the house for one week out of every four. Many suffer financial difficulties, having to pay for excessive numbers of pads and tampons or due to work absence.

Despite this, it is really hard to know what is considered ‘normal’ and when to seek help. This is made worse by the menstrual taboo and to break this we need to talk about menstruation. Increased awareness of menstrual disorders and the treatment options available will enable people to reach their full potential and have a positive impact on all of society.

Our aim was to develop a website that provides accurate, accessible information for those who menstruate, their families, doctors, employers and policymakers. In addition, we have provided resources for educators to facilitate the conversation about menstruation with both boys and girls at a young age to increase awareness and destigmatise this physiological process. As well as original content, we have endeavoured to signpost users to other great sources of information from charities and organisations promoting menstrual wellbeing.

Our hope is that we can provide the information necessary to have healthy, optimal periods.

Visit HOPE on the University of Edinburgh website.

Read our Friends of the Scotsman article about the aims of this project.

A One Health approach to tackle Toxoplasmosis

YAS held a one-day interdisciplinary conference on the current impact of toxoplasmosis in the UK and how we might prioritise areas for prevention and control strategies.

The outcome of this event was this report summarising the workshop discussions and making recommendations for Scotland.

Brexit Impact Report - Health and Wellbeing edition

In September 2018, a year on from our initial Brexit Impact Report, we published a follow-on report on the impact of Brexit on health and wellbeing.  The report covered topics including food supply, water quality, patient care and health research, with each article written by a YAS member with expertise in the field.

This report can be accessed here.

FRIED Talks (Food Researchers in Edinburgh)

YAS members have run several events in partnership with FRIED (Food Researchers in Edinburgh) at the University of Edinburgh – you can find out more about these here.

Tackling Health Inequalities in Scotland

In January 2016, YAS welcomed guest speaker Dr Kat Smith, Reader, Global Public Health Unit at the University of Edinburgh, as part of a group discussion aimed at exploring possible approaches towards tackling Health Inequalities (HI) in Scotland. The session aimed to harness the collective expertise of YAS members, RSE Fellows and other key stakeholders to help provide a steer and focus, and help inform future direction of travel.

Dr Smith presented her work, which examines how academic research on HI affects policy and practice in Scotland and England. Her research considers the recent historical context surrounding the issue of HI as part of the Labour Agenda, and the current government’s policies.

There is a consensus in academia that while there is a lot of policy activity around Health Inequalities, but very little progress has been made. There is also agreement on the types of policies that effectively address the root causes of HI. However, policies that address these issues are not often advocated by organisations. Instead, “downstream” policies that address the results of health inequalities are often advocated and introduced; these policies often address behaviours such as smoking, drinking, and poor diet. Because of past failures to significantly alter HI, there is a sense of “political embarrassment” surrounding the issue that makes it difficult to meaningfully address.

Aspirational Advice

Between January and April 2015, and then again in 2016, the YAS asked all Scots to share a piece of advice to young people on Twitter that would help them to aim high, dream big and lift aspirations and achieve their hopes and goals. We asked them to use the hashtag #AspirationalAdvice . The aim of the campaign was to inspire a future generation of Scots. Some outcomes and highlights of the campaign are recorded in the logbook here.

Thematic Lead

Margaret Cunningham
Margaret is a Chancellor’s fellow and lecturer in pharmacology, haematology and drug discovery at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. She trained in biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of Strathclyde and later with the Bristol Platelet Group, University of Bristol, UK.