LAHORE - The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has launched country’s first Centre for Happiness and Well-being which will initiate programs to define and measure parameters of happiness, monitor trends, investigate social, environmental and biological determinants of health and well-being, and, at the same time, provide services to healthcare workers, medical staff and students to fight stresses, burnouts and unhealthy lifestyles.

The centre has been envisioned by UHS Board of Governors’ Chairman and former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice (retired), Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, who inaugurated it at Jinnah Campus, Kala Shah Kaku. 

UHS Vice-Chancellor Professor Javed Akram, Registrar Dr Asad Zaheer and senior faculty and staff were present on the occasion.

Initially, employees’ wellbeing is being catered by the centre through the development of a daycare centre and an art facility to make the campus a friendly and happy place to work in. 

However, other services such as counselling, volunteering, exercise, nutrition, excursion, meditation, mindfulness, etc., will be initiated soon to increase a sense of life satisfaction, well-being, purpose, and ultimately, happiness among the staff and students.

Psychiatrists, physical trainers, nutritionists, motivational speakers and religious scholars will be in the regular and visiting faculty of the centre.

Addressing the faculty and students after inaugurating the centre, Justice (retired), Tassaduq Hussain Jillani said that the concept of happiness as a science was translating into new paradigms through development of happiness and well-being centres in academic institutions. 

The rise of depression and stress, he believed, was the major impetus behind the need for setting up these centres.

“Depression is one of the major causes of disability in the world. Pakistan is ranked 66th in the World Happiness Report out of 158 countries”, he said adding that because of such worldwide concerns, many top-ranking universities in the West, including Oxford and Harvard, had opened centres of happiness and wellbeing and were offering online courses as well. 

Urging the varsity to start postgraduate programmes in the discipline, Justice Jillani said that through the establishment of this centre,  UHS envisioned to inculcate a culture of individual and organizational wellbeing that would develop a happier and healthier workforce which would ultimately translate into happier and healthier society.          

 

 

 

“Whether it is the introduction of healthy food in the cafeteria or a weekly sit in with the head of the organisation, the welfare of employees is something we should take very seriously and this centre will create a dynamic public-private platform on well-being at work”, he said. 

He hoped that UHS centre would set a national standard for other organisations to understand and work towards happiness and wellbeing.

Prof Javed Akram said that there was growing scientific interest in workplace well-being. “Global research shows office environments that actively promote a state of contentment provide a myriad of benefits for employers and employees alike”, he opined.

 

He added that latest research had indicated that some of our sense of well-being might be in our genes, but only partly.

“Happiness is only partially determined by your genes, and the rest comes down to lifestyle and other environmental factors that you can control”, he explained. 

He further said that UHS Centre for Happiness and Well-being was set to help the people understand and pursue the three components of happiness: “life satisfaction, feeling engaged in everyday activities, and feeling you have a purpose in life”.

 

He said that the centre would promote activities highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and committing to physical activity in promoting healthy and active lifestyles. 

The initiative would further host discussions focusing on designing solutions to the challenges facing boosting physical activity and applying the principles of healthy living to the society. 

He further said that when introduced correctly, making fitness and mindfulness practices like ten minutes walk or yoga or meditation, part of the workweek could improve emotional and mental health.

 

“As organisations become more aware of the power of employee well-being, viewing it as an investment, not a cost, then things will ultimately improve through increased employee engagement, retention and productivity,” he concluded.