Resilience and public health

Resilience is a term used to describe the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of stress or challenge. Although it is often understood as an attribute of individuals, the processes which support resilience are profoundly social. Resilience is commonly discussed in relation to 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.  

Our briefing paper and accompanying report explore how we can conceptualise 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, this short (5 minute) film describes what needs to be in place to help individuals thrive in the face of challenge. 

The core message that resilience is more than an individual characteristic but is about what supports we can draw upon, can be applied 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.

Related blog: Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities

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 we were 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. During a year of creative engagement with the communities that live in the area, we produced the following films exploring what mattered to them.

Click to watch the films: 

Representing Dennistoun 

Local Girl 

The Repairman