Professor Ian Banks, Chairman of the Self Care Conference, Self Care Forum Board member and President of the European Men’s Health Forum, considers the importance of self care in the context of the current challenges for public health.

Since its formation in 2011, the Self Care Forum continues to embed self care into everybody’s work and family life. Being confident and enabled to make self care the default throughout life is essential when faced with symptoms of self-treatable conditions, embracing a healthy lifestyle and especially when managing long term conditions. This is still the direction of the Self Care Forum now it is a newly formed charity.

Self care for many people is far from their default setting. Increasing dependency on health services and health professionals may, paradoxically in part, be due to the success of the NHS itself.

Since the inception of the health service, with free availability to free healthcare, doctors can often be the first point of call for even the simplest of health problems. This declining confidence and skill in using basic health information to make appropriate health decisions erodes invaluable health literacy within the population.

If we are to ensure the NHS remains viable, then it is crucial that we reverse this trend and help people feel better empowered to look after their own health. The Self Care Forum believes this can only be done through collaboration with each other as health and public health professionals and organisations, and with people and patients.

Self care is not no care, it is about having supportive collaborative conversations with clear and consistent messages in order to engage people in their health, helping them towards better health and wellbeing for themselves and their loved ones. We know that there are excellent collaborations going on in the UK which engages people in their health and improves the local health economy.  However this is not widespread.

In a bid to share this best practice, the Self Care Forum will be showcasing exemplary self care models of joint working at this year’s Self Care Conference on 26 September. These visionaries will present their strategies and share their experiences with delegates.

Our aim is for this event to be engaging, inspiring and practical to help providers and commissioners in health and public health support people and patients to look after their own health and take us a step closer to self care being everyone’s default setting and lifelong habit. To get involved, you can register here.

You can also sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with the Self Care Forum's latest work, including Self Care Week which runs from 14-22 November 2016.