Leading Professor Shares Tools to Improve Your Emotional Health in Hay Festival Talk


Professor Jo Smith, a consultant clinical psychologist, says good mental health is not just the absence of mental health difficulties, but is about everyone having the tools to deal with daily life and to be more emotionally healthy.

Her talk entitled, "The Shape We're In: Building Good Mental and Emotional Health", will take place at the world-renowned Hay Festival on Tuesday, May 31 at 11.30am and is part of a series of four talks being delivered by the University of Worcester.

The Hay Festival is now in its 29th year and over 10 days in May and June attracts over 250,000 visitors to the small Herefordshire town of Hay-on-Wye.

Professor Smith has led on a number of projects nationally and internationally based on principles of 'prevention' and 'early intervention' to avoid later health difficulties.

"Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues," said Professor Smith. "Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics where people who are 'emotionally healthy' are much better equipped to handle life's challenges, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks.

"This does not just happen. Instead, we need to develop strategies in our lives to improve our emotional health to boost mood, build coping resilience and experience overall life enjoyment. This can include taking care of your physical health, finding activities that you enjoy and building up protective factors, like strong relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions."

Professor Smith is the lead on a 'Suicide Safer' Project, working in partnership with colleagues from the University of Worcester, Worcestershire County Council's public health and the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, to develop initiatives that will help to create a 'Suicide Safer' University, City and County.

This public lecture is just one of many initiatives that form part of this work to raise public awareness about the importance of building and maintaining mental health to protect against low mood and other factors that may potentially contribute to suicide risk.

Other talks in the University of Worcester series at the Hay Festival include:

  • Professor Maggie Andrews on "The Acceptable Face of Feminism: 100 Years of the Women's Institute" on Tuesday, May 31 at 10am.
  • Professor David Green, Mick Donovan and Anne Hannaford will host a panel session on "Universities in the 21st Century: More and Better?" on Wednesday, June 1, at 1pm.
  • Professor Lisa Jones and colleagues from the Bipolar Disorder Research Network, who will be discussing our understanding of the condition on Thursday, June 2 at 10am.