ROYAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY / INSTITUTE OF BRITISH GEOGRAPHERS
27-29 AUGUST 2008, LONDON, UK
CALL FOR PAPERS
Mental Well-being and Happiness
A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903), Act I
For the last 50 years Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has underpinned psychological understandings of achieving the ultimate in mental well-being; to achieve self-actualisation. But new understandings of well-being and happiness across the developed and developing worlds are dismantling the hierarchy and challenging the way we conceive of mental health.
Concerns with mental health have been dominated by a focus on deviations from a ‘norm’ – particularly where this relates to stress and psychological disorder. In contrast to traditional methods, more recent understandings of mental health are extending beyond these negative boundaries embracing emotions at the positive end of the scale. Happiness, satisfaction with life or quality of life are merging to provide more holistic measures of subjective well-being embracing the complex relationships between the individual and their environment.
The spaces, and their potential to become places, that people inhabit are important concepts for these new conceptualisations. They not only facilitate our understanding of how the physical, cultural, and political environment impact on health, but, importantly, provide the framework for understanding how these external spaces are internalised and give rise to the emotions that manifest as negative and positive mental health states. In this session we wish to draw out this discussion by considering how these complex relationships and processes play out at the local and global level affecting mental illness, mental health, psychological well-being and happiness.
To facilitate this debate on the changing and broadening concepts of mental well-being, and consider the implications for geographic – the importance of ‘space’ and ‘place’ –understandings of these phenomena, we welcome papers along the broad questions of:
What do we mean by mental health?
Is mental health the same or different to happiness and well-being?
How do we measure these abstract concepts?
Do space and place matter for mental well-being and happiness?
What are the implications for public health and health policy in developed and developing nations if the aim is to reduce suffering and enhance well-being and happiness?
The deadline for abstracts (of around 200 words) is 8 February 2008. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Beverley Searle Chris Dunn
Research Fellow Senior Lecturer
Dr Beverley A Searle
Department of Geography
University of Durham
Durham DH1 3LE
Telephone: 0191 334 1901
Fax: 0191 334 1801
Department of Goegraphy
Pathways of Housing Wealth and Well-being
Social Well-being and Spatial Justice Cluster