RCSI Positive Health researcher awarded €250,000 Erasmus+ funding

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Jolanta Burke

New positive science programme for primary schools awarded European funding.

Dr Jolanta Burke, Senior Lecturer at RCSI's Centre for Positive Health Sciences, has been awarded €250,000 in funding from the Erasmus+ programme to create a series of books, PsyTales, aiming to boost the health and wellbeing of primary school pupils.

Most European schools’ curricula currently include wellbeing programmes that look to reduce anxiety, depression and self-harm in children. However, many of these programmes are rendered less effective as they become just another academic activity for students to complete. 

The PsyTales project aims to indirectly improve primary schoolchildren’s wellbeing by creating a range of children's stories informed by the science of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine research that provides them with knowledge of how to look after their health and wellbeing. 

The PsyTales series of books will be published in English, French, Italian, Croatian and Greek and distributed across five different European countries. The efficacy of the programme will be assessed through psychological research in schools. If successful, the programme could be more widely distributed across Europe. 

Resilience and flourishing

Dr Jolanta Burke commented on the project, saying: “Empowering children with the gifts of positive education, infused with the wisdom of contemporary research in positive psychology and lifestyle medicine, we hope that PsyTales will become a beacon of resilience and flourishing in schools and a permanent fixture in the primary school curriculum for positive health.

“Through captivating stories and vibrant illustrations, they will equip young minds with the essential tools to ward off not just depression, anxiety, and self-harm, but also guard them against the emergence of non-communicable diseases in adulthood, like diabetes, coronary heart disease, and pulmonary ailments. I extend my thanks to European Erasmus+ Programme for their invaluable support."

RCSI’s Centre for Positive Health Sciences was launched in 2019 with the aim of enhancing health and wellbeing through the practice of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine. The Centre’s innovation programmes aim to educate health and allied professionals in this rapidly developing area, and its staff are focused on research projects addressing burnout, coaching, resilience, mental health and chronic illness.

The Centre also offers a range of free online courses to the general public on a diverse range of topics.