Self-care is not a new concept. You might say that self-care was what we humans did in the millennia before healthcare or natural sciences grew into some kind of maturity to help modern humans survive and prosper in larger, advanced communities and in more complex food systems. But people still care. They still self-care. And this is still a useful tool to revive, promote, and use if you want to help people to be healthier and safer.

In SafeConsume self-awareness and self-care are important parts of the solution to reduce health burden from foodborne illnesses.

Food safety in social media

But first, what did we actually do? Well, by participating in the so-called Self-Care Week Europe - a joint European campaign – we shared the SafeConsume tools, and recent videos via a series of SoMe-initiatives across Twitter, LinkedIn, and the EU Health Policy Platform.

You might know the former two best – the latter is sort of a mini-Facebook for health policy stakeholders across Europe. Or almost 10.000 of them sharing and discussing initiatives in specific disease areas, different collaboration models, or joint issues – like food and food safety.

So combined, the different self-care tools & concepts managed to reach more than 100.000 professionals via these media – and quite a few more via a number of newsletters, websites and other channels of the participants. Check out @SelfCareWeekEU on Twitter to get a glimpse.

So what is self-care?

There are different definitions – and many nuances too. So in this case, let’s just use this one: Self-care is “a learned tool enabling people to maintain health and to cope with illness and disability. Along with better health literacy, it also supports optimal and timely use of available health services while avoiding a total dependency upon them for minor ailments.”

As you can see, self-care connects with health services when needed and has a wide applicability across the so-called self-care continuum.

Some people self-care while healthy, some to stay healthy, some to regain health etc etc. But all care via habits, lifestyle - and other determinants – in choices of food, exercise, sleep, living, work, and more. And the Self-Care in Europe promotes this concept – that you as an individual play a vital role for your health – through the Self-Care Week Europe campaign mentioned above.

Self-Care Week Europe – why and how?

The organizer is the joint initiative Self-Care in Europe, a spin-off of a series of European projects with the basic idea to connect both research and policy initiatives that work with this basic element in health and wellbeing. And to do this in practice, the original group of organizations decided to use a joint campaign across Europe to show tools, initiatives, cases, creativity, and more with a fundamental idea; People care – let’s show others how. Like we do in SafeConsume.

So about 30 organizations, institutions, and projects joined hands to reach thousands. Well done.

So what?

Experience from empowerment shows that motivation and goal-setting are vital for change. Sharing and showing ideas, tools, and cases help build this motivation and goal-setting. Some are motivated by an interest in food, some in mindfulness, other via community.

But if we want people to care about food safety in their kitchen, it is useful to also reconnect them with the value of self-care. Their actions are essentially the change they – and we – would like to see in the world. And last week SafeConsume played a strong part in making that change happen.

And we in SafeConsume can also start planning towards 2020 – the app Mythbuster would probably be popular then; or the school material; or a game; or a new video; or new research – oh great; we’re actually making good progress already.

A few other SCwE 2019 partners ECDC - European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (focused on antibiotic awareness)

  • CPME - the Standing Committee of Doctors in Europe (focused on vaccination)
  • EPF- European Patient’s Forum (focused on patient involvement)
  • CHRODIS PLUS (a Joint Action focused on chronic diseases)
  • CEmPaC - Centre for Empowering Patients and Communities (community engagement & empowerment)
  • EHFF - European Health Futures Forum (future health strategy)