There is a strong vision in Cork and across Ireland to ensure that everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential. Organisations and individuals who are part of Irish society all have an important role to play or voice to be heard when it comes to supporting health and wellbeing; its everyone’s responsibility.
Many factors affect our health; where we live, our environment, our genetics, our income and education level, our relationship with friends and family. These factors are often outside the direct influence of health and social services, so they have to be considered in a different context. Health and wellbeing are on the agenda at a political level but also widely embraced in their own way across public, private, voluntary and community sector organisations.
Cork Healthy Cities
Cork has been a designated World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy City since January 2012 and has been committed ever since. Local authorities have committed to improving health and wellbeing by developing a process and structure to achieve it.
A WHO Healthy City is one that continually creates and improves its physical and social environments and expands the community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.
Healthy Cities is based on a recognition that population health is not merely a product of health sector activities but largely determined by policies and actions beyond the health sector.
The Cork Healthy Cities Vision is a city that connects to improve the health and well-being of all its people and reduce health inequalities.
Cork Food Policy Council
Cork Healthy Cities has actively supported the development of the Cork Food Policy Council – a partnership between representatives of the community, food retail, farming, fishing, restaurant/catering, education, environmental and health sectors and local authorities.
Cork Food Policy Council seeks to influence local food policy to follow best practice in developing a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system. The organisation supports new partnerships in Cork between statutory, community and voluntary groups, educational institutions and businesses to promote knowledge, skills and experience around food. They also advocate for innovative community food initiatives that seek improvements to the food system, improving equitable access to quality food.
The Impact of the Environment
The natural environment is a primary determinant of health and in many ways the foundation of modern public health. Luckily the natural environment which exists in Cork is very conducive to a good quality of life and is extremely important in shaping our lives and consequently our health and wellbeing.
There are many initiatives throughout the county that dovetail into this important area. Groups such as Green Spaces for Health and Mad about Cork run volunteer gardening projects, Tidy Towns run groups throughout Cork, and many community groups have their own ways of caring for the environment through community spirit initiatives.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Employers are realising the importance of promoting positive mental health in the workplace and supporting those experiencing problems. Many organisations have their own mindsets, policies and personnel to embrace this area of necessity for employment.
There are also some formal initiatives such as PSYCHED – an initiative of Cork Healthy Cities, supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE), University College Cork and Cork City Council – to promote better mental health in workplaces across Cork city and to develop greater understanding and reduced stigma towards mental illness in our wider community.
EcCoWell is an integrated approach to deliver better quality of life to citizens in a sustainable way. EcCoWell promotes integrating strategies to maximise the positive impacts on the health and educational opportunities of all citizens as well as developing the environmental and economic sustainability of the city, resulting in greater equality, social inclusion and ultimately quality of life.
Age Friendly Cork
An Age Friendly Forum has been established in Cork to represent the views of older adults in the city in the development of Cork as an Age Friendly city and county. Cork Healthy Cities actively supports this process by attendance at the Age Friendly Alliance and support for the Age Friendly Forum.
‘Your Good Self’ is an exciting joint initiative between the Health Service Executive (HSE), Cork County Library and Cork City Libraries. The ‘Your Good Self’ programme aims to provide quality information to the people of Cork on how to look after their emotional wellbeing as part of their overall health.
Collections are available at the following branch libraries: Ballincollig, Bandon, Bantry, Carrigaline, Charleville, Cobh, Dunmanway, Macroom, Mallow, Mitchelstown, Skibbereen and Youghal, as well as some of Cork’s mobile libraries. Materials and a public talks schedule are available through the ‘Your Good Self’ site, in your local participating library and on the Cork County and City Library websites.