Dr Terry Stevens opened the Global Wellness Round Table, Wales, this morning (14 July), explaining to delegates that the event has been convened following a request from Susie Ellis, chair of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).
At the Global Wellness Summit in Marrakech in 2014,
Ellis challenged operators around the world to hold a series of GWI round table events to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to discuss wellness interventions and how they could be implemented at local, national and international levels.
The event in Wales is only the sixth to be organised in the world and one of the first in Europe.
Delegates from public, private and voluntary sectors across disciplines such as medicine, spa and wellness, youth work, sport and community health gathered to discuss ways in which wellness collaborations can be conceived and implemented and then monitored and used as examples of best practice.
Event host Marc Clements, chair of the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University, explained how a range of intergovernmental collaborations and research projects are leading to the training of a new generation of life scientists who have a higher level focus on wellness.
The output from the event is expected to be a white paper in wellness interventions which can be operationalised.
Keynote speaker Franz Linser, a member of the Board of the Global Wellness Institute, told delegates about the aims of the GWI, which is seeking to empower wellness-related businesses to improve their reach and effectiveness.
The GWI is calling for governments to appoint ministers of wellness to work alongside their health and tourism ministries to develop all aspects of the wellness industry.
Linser said we need to open our minds to what wellness is all about – according to the WHO and medics.
He also said spas have to teach people a range of skills to underpin their wellbeing and happiness, not just offer them a massage and weight loss.
Spas seeking to broaden their offer into wellness must take into account aspects such as happiness, friendship, community, mindfulness, purpose, inner peace and mental health.
There's a health continuum, said Linser – on one side are the curative disciples, and on the other side the wellness paradigm, which is proactive: don't wait until things go wrong before acting. The focus must be on improving quality of life.
He said the global wellness industry is worth US$3.4tn (€2.6tn, £2.1tn) – three times bigger than the global pharma industry.
Linser also discussed wellness tourism, outlining the findings of The Global Wellness Tourism Economy report for delegates. This report was produced by the GWI, following research by SRI International, and found that wellness tourism is a US$438.6bn (€397.3bn, £281.6bn) industry as a subsector of the overall wellness economy.
Linser said we need to promote the outcomes of wellness interventions, not just the mechanisms of it. He said the luxuries of the future will be invisible: time, silence, mindfulness and space.
Programmes might be – for example – 'In search of myself,’ 'Downshifting and relaxing,' 'Weight management' and 'Recharge and energise.'
Ruth Hussey, chief medical officer of Wales said the nation was aspiring to higher goals – healthier people and economic strength.
She said the five ways to wellness: connecting, being active, keeping on learning, mindfulness and giving, must be applied and "operationalised.” She called on delegates to 'keep it real.’
The presentations from experts were followed by a round table discussion under Chatham House Rules, where delegates were encouraged to raise issues and discuss and debate them freely.
The team behind the event plan to issue 10 takeaways from the event within the next week. These are expected to include the development of wellness schools, a new government emphasis on 'settings' - such as the workplace, schools and cities - as a focus for wellness interventions, as opposed to personal interventions and a plan to build a wellness hotel in Swansea.