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  • May 05 / 2016
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Current Affairs

Health, Wellbeing and the 2016 Scottish election


In the days running up to the Scottish elections IHAWKES has been asking the question: what are the most critical policy issues for health and wellbeing?

Here is a selection of the tweets we received in response:

Andrea E Williamson‏@aewilliamsonl

@IHAWKES1 Single disease models OUT! The role that mental health has in engagement in care -INEXTRICABLY linked to multi-morbidity.

8:07 AM – 4 May 2016

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  • Apr 13 / 2016
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The Profcast: Professor Rory O’Connor


In today’s Profcast we speak to Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair in Health Psychology and Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.

Why did you become an academic?

That’s a good question.  From pretty early on in my life, I wanted to be a psychologist. As an identical twin of an identical twin I’ve always been fascinated by nature vs nurture and psychology more generally.  Yes, to clarify, my father was an identical twin and I am an identical twin and my twin, Daryl, is also a professor of psychology – at Leeds University (we’re mirror twins actually).  Also, when I was 11, I met a clinical psychologist, who really impressed me and I have been pretty much hooked on psychology ever since (I had the good fortune to meet said same clinical psychologist more than ten years later while doing my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast which was great).  It was some time later before I decided that I wanted to become an academic rather than a clinician. I remember really enjoying doing a group research project during the 2nd year of my undergraduate degree; this really whetted my appetite for research, which was further reinforced by doing my final year dissertation (an experimental study on learned helplessness and depression). I loved the process, thinking of a problem, formulating it as a question and then systematically attempting to answer it.  I have also always enjoyed teaching and again, I had really positive experiences of teaching/supervision as a postgraduate and of developing an extra-mural course on mental health at Queen’s with two colleagues during my PhD. Continue Reading

  • Mar 30 / 2016
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The Profcast: Professor Kate O’Donnell


For our first Profcast of 2016, we speak to Kate O’Donnell, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow.

Why did you become an academic?

I never consciously “became” an academic; I think I rather fell into it. My first degree was a BSc in Immunology at Glasgow University. It was an exciting time in immunology (probably always is) –  T cell receptor being identified, HIV was isolated. So there was a real buzz and I wanted to be part of that, so I went on to do my PhD in Immunology. What I then gradually realised over several years was that I loved research and the academic tasks of writing and communicating, but I wanted it to be nearer “people” than bench research allowed me to be. So I took a couple of career turns and finished up as a primary care researcher. It’s taken me a long time to feel I can say I am a primary care academic and not feel a fraud. Continue Reading

  • Mar 23 / 2016
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Academia, Olivia Kirtley

We need to talk about the ‘hum’

Photo by Sergey Zolkin ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By Olivia Kirtley:

Recently, I watched a superb TED talk by doyenne of Primetime TV, Shonda Rhimes. In the talk she discusses ‘the hum’; this sense of perpetual drive, passion and industriousness. She loves the hum, she is the hum. One day, the hum stops. She feels restless, exhausted, disconsolate and, in a sense, grieving for the loss of joy in her work. Unlike many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy however, this story has a happy ending. Shonda takes a breath, she plays with her children, she keeps putting one foot in front of the other, and one day, the hum returns. She had a dip, a temporary period of being lost in the wilderness, then once rested and restored, she returns to her path. Continue Reading

  • Feb 17 / 2016
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Academia, Olivia Kirtley

Out of Office: Can leaving our desks boost our research and wellbeing?

Photo by Aleksi Tappura ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By Olivia Kirtley:

At the risk of sounding as though I am already penning my memoirs less than a month after my viva, most of the moments of academic serendipity in my career so far have not been during supervision meetings or whilst writing papers, but instead over coffee, drinks, dinners, and more recently, also on Twitter. I would even go as far as to say that the most magical moments of academia-the knitting together pieces of complex puzzles, of meeting people whose ideas set one bubbling with excitement- don’t actually happen in the office. Continue Reading

  • Jan 27 / 2016
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Current Affairs, Louis Nerurkar

Science and Semantics: Focus on Immigration

Photo LA(PHOT) Jay Allen ©. Royal Navy Media Archive. Used with permission under Creative Commons license.

By Louis Nerurkar:

In recent months the media has repeatedly discussed the waves of “economic migrants” entering Europe as they attempt to flee from the conflicts that have displaced them. In this context the word economic is often used to imply that the decision to journey to the United Kingdom was taken with the sole purpose of acquiring increased income and exploiting the welfare systems that exist across much of Europe. Continue Reading

  • Jan 06 / 2016
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Methods, Tiago Zortea

Is it dangerous to ask or talk about suicide?

Photo by Charlie Foster ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By Tiago Zortea

This is an understandable concern. Suicide is a delicate issue since it involves suffering, emotional pain, and sometimes stigma for those who have lost loved ones through suicide or feel suicidal themselves [1]. In addition, there is a well-known phenomenon called the Werther effect” (or copycat suicide) where a person bases a suicide attempt on another suicide they have heard about (e.g., in the media). When it comes to asking someone whether they have suicidal thoughts, people might feel particularly reticent due to a concern that they will become responsible for that person if the answer is “yes”. These sorts of concerns can discourage people from talking and asking about suicide, and reinforce the idea that these conversations might, in themselves, increase the risk of inducing suicidal ideation and behaviour, especially if the conversation is with someone who is already depressed or psychologically distressed. Continue Reading

  • Nov 25 / 2015
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Current Affairs, David Blane

Time for a sugar tax?

Photo by Thomas Kelley ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By David Blane:

League tables are everywhere, and no-one wants to be bottom of the class.  In terms of health indicators, considerable efforts have been made across Scotland in recent years to shrug off the unfortunate title of “sick man of Europe”, but another dubious accolade is up for grabs.  With some of the worst obesity figures among OECD countries – almost two-thirds of adults and a third of children were considered to be overweight in 2013 [1] – Scotland is in danger of topping the chart as the “fat man of Europe”. Continue Reading

  • Nov 11 / 2015
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Current Affairs, Tiago Zortea

Eleanor Rigby, Loneliness, and Suicide

Photo by Joshua Earle ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By Tiago Zortea:

“Ah look at all the lonely people!
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”

The thought provoking, sad, and very reflective Beatles’ song, Eleanor Rigby shocked me when I listened to it for the first time many years ago. For a teenager who was starting to understand how life works and how to navigate relationships, I found the song extremely thought provoking. Who wants to be lonely? Who wishes to have no bonds? Though the music expert Richie Unterberger suggests that Eleanor Rigby focuses on “the neglected concerns and fates of the elderly”, the song tells us about a human experience that can be devastating regardless of age: the constant feeling of being lonely. Continue Reading