Resilience and public health


What is resilience?

Resilience is a term increasingly used in reference to an ability to withstand stress and serious challenge. It is commonly discussed in relation to how best to prepare for major upheavals and challenges such as extreme weather, terrorism or other disruptions to day-to-day life.

However, for resilience to have relevance to public health it must provide a framework which enables individuals and communities to withstand challenges such as poverty, inequality, worklessness and other factors that endanger health and wellbeing.  

In February 2014 a briefing paper and accompanying report were published and these papers explore the concept of resilience and its application within the field of public health.

Download the publications:

Concepts Series 12 - Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities

Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities


Resilience animation

In addition to the written reports, we felt the subject of resilience could be useful explored through an animated film. This short (5 minute) film describes what’s important to help individuals thrive in challenging circumstances.  It looks at how, with a bit of help from those around us, a person might respond to the shock of job loss.  

The core message, that personal characteristics and the help of those around and beyond us are vital to resilience, can be thought about in relation to any major upheaval. The animation is aimed at anyone with an interest in resilience but may be particularly useful to those approaching the concept fresh or those who need to think about resilience in their work.

Watch the film.

More on resilience and Glasgow's Resilience Strategy on the Understanding Glasgow website.

Representing Communities: harnessing the creative power of people and communities to improve well-being. 

How communities adapt in times of change is a key to the resilience of people and places. To explore the connections between people, places, history and resilience GCPH are partners on the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Representing Communities project.  This UK wide collaboration has ambitious aims, including: 

  • Explore the relationship between existing  ‘official’ representations of places (e.g. fictional portrayals or through statistical data) and how communities understand and present their own histories and aspirations 
  • To create opportunities for communities to explore, through creative practices, the multiple perspectives on history and transformation in particular communities undergoing change 
  • Grounded in these explorations, assess the potential for building shared narratives which can be used to build community cohesion and widen participation 
  • To create opportunities to use creative and artistic expression as means of communication, dialogue and debate between policy makers and communities 

The Glasgow case study is Dennistoun in the city’s east end. More information about why it was chosen, what we plan to do and the wider project to which it belongs can be found on the Representing Communities project website.

The researchers on this project are Pete Seaman and Claire McKechnie-Mason.