Solving New Brunswick’s Wellness Crisis
New Brunswick is facing a wellness crisis. As its population’s rates of obesity, inactivity and smoking were steadily rising, the Government of New Brunswick created the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport in 2006 to help build a culture of well-being in the province.
The Wellness Branch subsequently published Live well, be well (2009-2013), an enhanced wellness strategy whose goal is to motivate and empower New Brunswickers to increase their awareness of, participation in, and commitment to wellness. The Branch relied on research-based initiatives to identify the most effective methods of improving the wellness of its population.
Four guiding principles are identified as being key to the strategy’s success:
- Adopting comprehensive and multi-dimensional approaches based on collaboration amongst partners at all levels.
- Engaging and mobilizing New Brunswickers in all settings to obtain systematic positive change. Being engaged means taking action towards positive community change and decision-making that reflects community needs and desires.
- Create opportunities for collecting and sharing new information, as it is important to actively share health and wellness data, knowledge and best practices between governments, communities, organizations, schools and other partners.
- Applying the Self-Determination Theory, which is based on the belief that individuals have the ability to reflect upon, formulate and act on personal decisions likely to contribute to physical and emotional growth.
The final principle illustrates mental fitness as defined by the Strategy: supporting individuals and communities to feel connected, independent and capable enables them to make healthier choices and take more responsibility for their personal wellness and the wellness of others.
In conclusion, studies show that improving the mental fitness of individuals can increase a population’s rates of healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco-free living. Therefore, mental fitness is part of the solution to help New Brunswickers adopt a healthy lifestyle.