I have been curious about the human potential for wellbeing from early adulthood and have made this a focus of my personal, professional and academic life.
My career in academic medicine gave me the opportunity to research mental wellbeing and to teach undergraduate and graduate students on the subject. With this background I was able to lead the development of the new professional discipline of Public Mental Health. In order to better research the topic, I developed a measure (the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale or WEMWBS) that has proved hugely popular with practitioners and researchers. At the same time I pursued and tested many different approaches to wellbeing for myself. I am now keen to support others who want to explore wellbeing in the context of their work, home, health and/or relationships.
I combined my career with single parenthood and am now enjoying the pleasures of being a grandmother. I am a cancer survivor and benefitted greatly from all that I learnt from the experience of cancer. As part of my recovery process, I became interested in spiritual matters and became a long term student of the Diamond Approach to Human Development which aims to combine the psychotherapeutic knowledge of the West with the knowledge of spiritual development from the East. This approach cultivates the capacity for presence and explores relationships with self and others through a process of meditation and inquiry.
I now offer coaching and mentoring on a one to one basis and experiential teaching on wellbeing to small groups. I offer bodywork on a one to one basis and courses in bodywork. I have a delightful annex that is available to hire for groups pursuing the development of wellbeing. I work face to face and with groups in Oxford, UK where I live.
I am an experienced and engaging lecturer and have spoken on wellbeing, its determinants and solutions in many different sectors and professional groups. I am able to offer tailored lectures of varying lengths, remote lectures, and panel discussions as well as in person sessions. I am available as a consultant to advise organisations on the development of wellbeing.
I qualified in medicine in 1974 (BM BCh Oxon) and worked in the NHS in general medicine, paediatrics and public health for 20 years. I was Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick Medical School from 2003-2021 and Reader in Public Health at the University of Oxford Medical School 1994-2003. My research allowed me to lead the development of public mental health and show how this can be addressed at all ages and stages of life. I recognised the need to measure wellbeing quantitatively as well as to research it from a qualitative perspective. This led me to develop the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/med/research/platform/wemwbs) which is now very widely used in the UK and further afield. I have a wealth of practical experience of traditional health care as well as expertise in research and teaching. Working with colleagues in the medical school and University I developed some of the earliest student wellbeing courses which addressed the subect from both academic and experiential perspectives.
I hold a PhD from Bristol University, and am a retired fellow of the the UK Faculty of Public Health and the Royal College of Physicians of London. I have published over 250 peer review journal publications, books, book chapters and reports and advised English, Scottish and Welsh Governments on public mental health in a variety of contexts. Until 2016, I was Chair of the UK Faculty of Public Health’s Mental Health Committee and was awarded the prestigious Wilfred Harding Prize by the Faculty of Public Health in recognition of my contribution to and leadership in public health.
I have been coaching and mentoring trainees and students for many years on an informal basis. I gained a Diploma in Coaching from the University of Warwick October 2020 and joined the Association for Coaching the same year. I am bound by the ACA Code of Ethics and have regular supervision to maintain the integrity of my coaching.
During the explorations I made in recovering from cancer, I became interested in the role that bodywork and complementary and alternative approaches more generally play in wellbeing. I became of student and practitioner of Qi Gong and gained certificates in Zero Balancing from the UK Zero Balancing Association, Deep Massage from the Lauterstein School of Massage in Denver, USA, and Emotional Freedom Technique from AMMET. I trained as a teacher in Zero Balancing and used these skills to teach aspects of the practice to medical students at Warwick Medical School. I use the knowledge and skills offered by all these approaches to support embodiment in my personal practice as well as my work with clients.
“Sarah somehow holds a space that is both structured enough to feel purposeful, but wide open enough to be entirely attuned to whatever may come in that moment. I was surprised by how our coaching sessions enabled an exploration of some very deep things in myself, even in a short space of time. Something about the life work Sarah has done with herself cannot help but draw that out for others.
“We delved into trauma, acceptance, fears, ambition, confidence, power, compassion and careers, all with great ease and encouragement.
“We set intentions and concrete actions to continue to work on over time, and although it is clear that most of the work has to be done by myself on myself, I cannot express how powerful it is to have a bit of a hand up the steeper slopes, and to see that there are others ahead of you who have braved (and flourished on) a less-trodden path.
“Most wonderfully, Sarah never failed to show me, usually through my own accidental passing comments, how much of value I have to bring to myself and to the world. If you could put resilience into a bottle and pour yourself a dose, I think it would taste like this.”
— Rachel Handley, Consultant in Public Health
Professor Stewart-Brown is one of the UKs foremost public health leaders. Throughout her career, she has steered the development of several different aspects of public health practice. In the last ten years, working with and through the Faculty of Public Health she has bought the field of Public Mental Health into being and shown us what this practice is.
“Her research has provided the measurement tool to enable evaluation of Public Mental Health interventions and made a substantial contribution to the intervention evidence base.
“She is an outstanding teacher both in the University and CPD setting, making difficult concepts easy to grasp and new paradigms clear. She has so enthused the Faculty Membership with the result that there is now a high level of engagement in Public Mental Health, as exemplified by the ‘Better Mental Health for All‘ report and Faculty of Public Health website covering this work. Professor Stewart-Brown has always maintained that public health meant ‘shifting the curve’ rather than just prevention and points out that as part of the general population, professionals need to address their own mental health as well as that of others. This is something she has also shown us how to do by example as well as teaching. I know that she is now starting to address personal wellbeing and resilience with medical students and junior doctors as well as public health trainees in the courses she is developing. It may take a few years before the profession as a whole starts to feel the benefit of this, but if her past leadership performance is anything to go by I know that they will.”
— John Middleton, Past President of the Faculty of Public Health
“I’ve just listened to your interview on BBC news, and needed to say thank you for your level-headed and encouraging comments on the Covid situation.
“So many people, classing themselves as experts, just spread doom and gloom or at the other end of the spectrum don’t get the facts they are distributing right, like all the charts that were displayed instigating this second lockdown, and treat us like idiots.
“My greatest wish would be that an army of level headed people like yourself who can be frank and honest and give a logical explanation will get together and stop all the media hype and false information/data being circulated.”
— Margaret Wilhelm, radio listener
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