Summer school: Health and happiness

Researchers have long known that health and happiness go together. Studies show how individuals can actively influence their own health and well-being. Numerous interventions and techniques, often with the help of technology, have been developed to help promoting a healthy lifestyle. In this track, we will address a couple of questions: What role can technology play to support health and well-being? What makes people happy? How can we change unhealthy behavior? Inspired by insights from health psychology, positive psychology, communication sciences, and eHealth, this course will help you address these questions. You will work on several cases related to health and well-being, with the ultimate goal to boost health, both physically and mentally.


Together with other participants you will discover and learn more about these topics:

Course fundamentals + get to know each other

Introduction to the course ‘Health and Happiness’. You will learn about the core pillars of this course, including the basics of health psychology and positive psychology. Furthermore, you will get to know the other participants of this course and learn more about yourself.

  • Basic knowledge of health psychology and positive psychology
  • Exercises for creating a state of happiness
Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the branch of psychology that uses scientific understanding and effective interventions to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than treating mental illness. The focus of positive psychology is on personal growth rather than on pathology, as is common among other frameworks within the field of psychology.

During this session, you will learn more about the theoretical background of positive psychology. What are the origins of positive psychology and who are the ‘founders’, what is the added value of positive psychology and what is scientifically proven within this field?

Later you will learn more about two examples of applied positive psychology: The Route of Happiness & Wellbeing therapy.

  • This course session will provide the attendees knowledge about the theoretical background and insights of positive psychology
  • Attendees will learn how to apply positive psychology in practice
Health Psychology

This session is about the essentials of health psychology. What are the origins of health psychology, how is it being researched and what are the latest findings within this field? The session is followed by workshops about how to seduce people into health and the use of e-health. What is health promotion, what are explicit and implicit techniques that health psychologists use to encourage people to behave healthily?

For example E-health is becoming more and more prominent and important in health care; current estimates suggest that there are about 97.000 eHealth apps around the world. What are the (dis)advantages of eHealth?

  • This course session will provide the attendees knowledge about the theoretical background and insights of health psychology
  • Attendees will learn about techniques to encourage healthy behavior
  • This course session will introduce attendees to eHealth
Improving health and happiness in practice

One can boost health and happiness in several settings. During different sessions, three main contexts will be put central: 1) How can you improve health and happiness at work, 2) in schools and  3) in healthcare?

Improve Health @ work

We spend about 100.000 (!) hours at work over our lifetime, so it is clear that is important to give attention to mental health and wellbeing at the workplace. The setting in which we work has changed a lot in recent years. What are the effects of time-spatial flexibility and new working conditions on work-life balance?

Improve Health @schools

Adolescence and young adulthood are critical phases for the promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing. With the majority of young people regularly using the internet, the potential of online technologies as settings for increasing access to interventions promoting positive mental health and wellbeing is yet to be fully realized. You will learn more about types of interventions that are being developed internationally in the educational setting.

Improve Health for Health care

It is a paradox that our health care systems are focused more on illness than on health. This session covers several questions that need to be raised when we want to shift the focus from illness to health. How can we conceptualize health in a more positive way? What role does happiness play in such a definition of health? How can we measure positive health and happiness within our health care system?

  • These course sessions will provide knowledge about how to increase health and happiness in various settings; at workplace, in schools and in healthcare
  • After these course sessions attendees are able to design an intervention for improving health and happiness in various settings
Designing your own boosting intervention

You will work in groups of around 4 students on a project in which you design an intervention for the ideal workplace, school or health care center. You can apply the knowledge and insights from the previous sessions.

Furthermore you will go on an excursion with your group to an organization which could apply your intervention in practice. During this visit there is the opportunity to talk to (scientific) experts and professionals (from practice) to get input for your intervention.

  • Attendees will get insights in everyday life practices that might influence wellbeing in the workplace, schools or healthcare system
  • Attendees will get knowledge about how to design an intervention using heuristics from both positive and health psychology
  • Attendees are able to design their own intervention
Health and Happiness & Technology

We are living in an era where technology is being developed faster than ever. This provides great opportunities in improving our standard of living. Robots, for example, might be the solution to the overburden healthcare system. However, the development of technology also poses threats on society. What to do with game addiction? And is our privacy still safeguarded with all the information that is available through big data?

In this course you will learn about the possibilities and dark side of technology and how it can influence our wellbeing.

  • In this course attendees learn about the opportunities and threats of technology on human’s wellbeing
  • Attendees are able to critically reflect on the development of technology that is designed to improve the standard of living
Presenting your intervention

You have designed your own intervention, but now you need to convince other parties of the excellence of it and motivate them to implement your idea. During this day you will learn how to give a perfect pitch and stand out with your presentation. The day will end with a closing ceremony where you present your intervention with your project group for a jury of experts.

  • This course will provide knowledge about the characteristics of a good presentation
  • After this course attendees are able to give a convincing pitch

Learning outcomes

  • Attendees will learn about positive psychology, health psychology and technology linked to wellbeing
  • Attendees will gain knowledge about how to improve health and happiness in various settings (workplace, schools, healthcare)
  • Attendees will learn how to translate their gained knowledge into creating an intervention to improve health and happiness

Course aim

  • Knowing how to improve health and well-being in several areas
  • Designing technological interventions to improve health and well-being
  • Applying knowledge from health psychology, positive psychology, communication sciences, and eHealth to improve health and well-being

Course details

  • Methods: Discussions, lectures, workshops
  • Course level: Beginner's/Intermediate/Advanced
  • Target group: Everyone with an interest in technological interventions with a human touch to improve health and well-being.
  • Required knowledge: Interest in health and well-being.
  • External speaker: tbc
  • Course leaders: tbc
  • Credits: 2 ECTS for successfully completing the summer school