Despite enormous efforts and a vast number of individual projects, there has not been a lot of success in the past few years in countering obesity and psychological disorders such as ADHD, eating disorders or depression not only in isolated instances, but as part of a comprehensive overall strategy. The main reason for this could be the neglect of the importance of recognition and social participation for health. The Federal Government's Participation Report also highlights that people with impairments with a lack of social participation show a higher level of additional health problems. However, the importance of participation often remains limited to specific target groups, although numerous empirical evidence points to a general relationship between social conditions and health. This correlation is also reflected in the parallel development of the new widespread diseases to the increasingly large gap between “poor” and “rich”, between social “losers” and “winners”, as documented in the Federal Government's latest report on poverty and wealth. Existing measures do not adequately take this development into account, regardless of whether they are oriented towards behavioural or relational prevention.
VorteilJena, based in Jena, creates a preventative health region for every age. This region is supported by a central idea: Only people who belong can be healthy and people who are marginalised, bullied, discriminated or ignored cannot! The central concern of such clearly defined health promotion is enabling positive self-worth, a sense of “we”, and building a shared identity around this. From a theoretical perspective, there is significant evidence that health-promoting services can only be effective when people are convinced that they are responsible for their own well-being and that of others, and when they feel confident in implementing this responsibility through their own actions. This central aspect of self-efficacy cannot be promoted by referring to the dangers associated with a particular disease, by mere knowledge transfer or education, and not only by providing health services. Rather, there are two types of strategy that aim to increase everyone’s social participation.
Firstly, the goal is to reintegrate, or more precisely to include, people in the community who are discriminated against/bullied/ignored as a result of mental illness, disability or obesity, This happens at VorteilJena in three areas:
- Increasing self-efficacy and self-determined action,
- Avoiding discrimination/bullying and promoting tolerance,
- Promoting social participation.
On the other hand, there are concrete offers to promote a common identity with the aim of building motivation and support for a meaningful life for all social groups. These offers sufficiently supplement the measures introduced to achieve inclusion by town authorities and in the (business) environment.
What is new and innovative about this idea is that such measures should not or not primarily be conceived with a view to improving teamwork or pursuing economically oriented corporate goals, but rather as part of comprehensive health promotion that benefits companies and institutions, society and each individual.