‘New wave’ by Phil Hanlon

The second of a series of top-quality videos on the future of public health by Glasgow professor Phil Hanlon. Fascinating and bigger picture stuff from his Afternow website.

‘What’s next for the health of society?  In this introductory video Phil Hanlon highlights a number of daunting challenges for public health in the 21st Century.  He explains how what might be called the dominant mindset of the modern age can be characterised by its ability to understand, predict and control the natural world – an approach which was subsequently extended to the social world. 

In Public Health, this ability led to a number of  ‘waves’ of health improvement in the period since the Industrial Revolution, many of which remain with us and are important for health today, even though they peaked in effectiveness some time ago. 

However, we now face emerging problems such as depression and anxiety, obesity and a number of other addictive behaviours – problems which are not amenable to the ‘understand-predict-control’ approach which worked in the past.  And in the context of modern society the earlier waves of health improvement now seem to provide diminishing returns.

Phil suggests that modernity itself may have reached its peak and may now be declining, which leads him to conclude that a new public health ‘wave’ is needed, but that this will need to be more radical than anything that has gone before.’