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Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

Whether we have the power to make healthy choices or to influence decision makers to create more green space, the amount of power we have over the decisions that affect us has an impact on our health.

Today, we are launching a new animation that shows why power is important to health. Together with the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH), we have produced a short film which we hope will help people working across sectors to understand the importance of power in shaping social and health inequalities and, crucially, see how they can support communities to have more power.

Some people have greater power than others. This means they have more opportunities than others to live longer, healthier lives.  For example, people on higher incomes have more options over where they live than people on low incomes. They have the power to move somewhere that could be better for their health, with nice parks, more jobs and better schools. 

In contrast, people who are homeless have very little power to keep themselves warm and well, and may have limited choices to make informed decisions. Aspects of life such as housing, education, employment and health and social care are all areas that are affected by the amount of power someone has.  

The amount of power we have over our lives contributes to the health and wellbeing of individuals and groups across Scotland. It is important that we identify actions that will lead to power being shared more equally so that everyone has the power to make changes – personally or in their communities – to ensure we can all live longer, healthier lives.

Elinor Dickie, Public Health Intelligence Adviser said:

"We know that those who have power over their lives and the environments in which they live are likely to have better physical, mental, and social well-being. So power is protective of health. 

"Working with GCPH, our new animation seeks to support people who work in the public and third sectors to consider how they operate, and the role they can play to enable communities to have more power, ensure they feel their voices are heard and have greater control over the things that matter to them.

"With the opportunities presented in the Community Empowerment Act to achieve this, we hope the film will be a useful resource for partners and communities across Scotland.”

You can watch our new animation - 'Power as a health and social justice issue' on the Power page.