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A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.

In 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

In 2017, the Smurfs joined the UN in celebrating the International Day of Happiness as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – #SmallSmurfsBigGoals

The details of 2018 celebrations have not yet been announced, but whatever you have planned for the day, be happy!

Mexico City’s bike revolution

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It’s an eerily calm Sunday morning on the city’s Avenida Reforma, an avenue which is grid-locked on weekdays by tens of thousands of cars sitting bumper-to-bumper.

The Reforma’s closure to car traffic on Sundays in 2007 kickstarted the capital’s attempts to make life easier for cyclists. In 2010 a 17km-long bike lane through the city opened.

The car still reigns supreme in this metropolis of 22 million people, with more than four million vehicles clogging the roads every day.

Perhaps the biggest factor has been the launch of the so-called Ecobicis (Eco-bikes) in 2010. Following on from similar schemes operating in London, Paris and Barcelona, Mexico City launched a public bike rentals at 90 different sites. Since then, some 30,000 people have joined and there is a waiting list for new members. The Ecobici system is expected to expand to 75,000 users by the end of 2012, with 4,000 more bicycles made available at new sites.

The scheme is not without it’s critics with some of Mexico City’s drivers spending up to four hours a day on their journeys to work, with three separate rush-hours. Some say cyclists have only made matters worse.

One local radio host Angel Verdugo angered bike users when he called on car drivers to run over the cyclists. He said championing the new breed of cyclists was a form of racism. “They want to be like Europeans,” he says. “They believe they are living in Paris and riding along the Champs-Elysees.”

He subsequently made a public apology.

There’s no doubt that Mexico City is for the most part still a car-orientated city but it is also clear that cycling is in the ascendancy. More cycle ways are planned, and public opinion supporting active travel is growing. A car free city is, however, a long way off.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

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As you get older, keeping your mind active and healthy can become a big challenge. Your mental abilities generally decrease with age, particularly if your brain is not stimulated much. If your mind is not healthy and active in later life, you can have an increased chance of developing dementia (otherwise known as Alzheimer’s Disease). As well as age, your mental abilities can be affected by medical conditions and any medication that you are on to treat these.

A healthy mind can work wonders for improving your general health. Nutrition is believed to play a key role in keeping your mind healthy and active, and a good diet is essential for maintaining your general health. Recommended nutrition for an active mind includes fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, an adequate amount of carbohydrates and plenty of water (and fluids in general).

Some experts have suggested that several of the mental changes that were originally believed to be the result of getting older are actually caused by your lifestyle. This means that making the effort to keep your mind active and healthy through regular stimulation can have definite benefits for your mental abilities.

This can involve going back into education, taking home study courses, involving yourself in a new hobby or interest, doing stimulating puzzles (such as crosswords and Sudoku), playing games that require you to think (such as Scrabble or chess), reading books , exercising on a regular basis and using brain-training programs.

How to Improve and maintain your mental wellbeing


“We never had so much need of storytelling and its healing powers.” George Mackay Brown

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Storytelling activities provide opportunities for the socially and educationally excluded to take part in cultural experiences that provide a platform for a sense of community, inclusion, and understanding. We all have a story to tell, and storytelling can provide a valuable means of self-expression and communication, as well as building confidence and self-esteem and combating feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Handmade Tales
Handmade Tales was an eight-week project that offered carers and those experiencing mental health problems some ‘time out’ in the form of storytelling sessions. Facilitated by storyteller Claire Hewitt, these Handmade Tales sessions gave the carers the opportunity to socialise with people going through similar experiences, have some much needed ‘me time’ and find a voice to tell their own stories. This helped them to reconnect and rebuild stronger relationships with family and friends – especially with the person the care for.

Claire led participants through a programme of storytelling and arts and craft activities all linked to the theme of spring. Whilst the hands were busy felting, stitching, thumping clay or making bread, stories were shared. Storytelling and the accompanying handwork gave participants the skills to express who they are, help them reconnect with forgotten dreams and celebrate life and the growth of something new. These sessions gave the carers the opportunity just to have a break away from their caring role, and act as a reminder that they too are important and they need to look after themselves.

This project was in collaboration with Support in Mind Scotland and the Scottish Storytelling Centre and supported by the Scottish Government ‘Short Breaks Fund.


What does “wellbeing” mean to you?

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Welcome to the second of Kincardine and Mearns local community plan priorities.

Communities, both place-based and people sharing a common identity or affinity, have a vital contribution to make to health and wellbeing. Community life, social connections, supportive relationships and having a voice in local decisions are all factors that underpin good health, however, inequalities persist and too many people experience the effects of social exclusion or lack social support. Participatory approaches directly address the marginalisation and powerlessness caused by entrenched health inequalities.

The assets within communities, such as the skills and knowledge, social networks, local groups and community organisations, are building blocks for good health. Many people in Kincardine & Mearns already contribute to community life through volunteering, community leadership and activism. Community empowerment occurs when people work together to shape the decisions that influence their lives and health and begin to create a more equitable society. This is not about a DIY approach to health; there are important roles for NHS, local government and their partners in creating safe and supportive places, fostering resilience and enabling individuals and communities to take more control of their health and lives.

Over the next few weeks we will share with you some stories about wellbeing and what it means to a variety of people. Look out for our first blog next week.We hope you enjoy

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) World Café.

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SAMH are holding an event in Stonehaven on Wednesday 26 July from 1100 – 1400. The event is aimed at professionals supporting clients with mental health needs, and clients, and is relevant to adult services only (16 – 65 years). Participants should be willing to take part in discussions and share their lived experiences of mental health services. If you would like to attend, please contact and let them know if you will be taking along any clients on the day.


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This free community event is to promote and inform adults about key aspects of our young people’s health and wellbeing. With partners across education and health sessions are being offered on:
Social Media
Drugs and Alcohol
Fast and easy cooking for the family
Young People and Sleep

You can book onto these sessions by phoning 01569 762071 or online at:
from Monday, 21st August to
Sunday, 3rd September 2017.

If you can only spare a short time come in and visit our information stalls, chat with the teams and friends over a cup of tea and healthy nibbles.
Get a general access ticket at
16.30 – 19.00