A New Way to Explore Wellness with BBC StoryWorks’ Simon Shelley

What is the true meaning of wellness? And what are the paths to attain it? It makes sense that a division of the world’s oldest broadcasting company would seek to answer these questions, noting the rising public interest on so many levels. The word “wellness” was used in over 60 million hashtags on Instagram alone.

Building on their century-long pedigree as the world’s most trusted storytellers, BBC StoryWorks looks for partners for whom they can create beautifully crafted stories designed to move and  inspire curious minds across platforms, around the globe. It also makes sense that they would reach out to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) – the world’s leader in wellness research – to help them tell this story on wellness.

At the 2021 Global Wellness Summit in Boston, the GWI announced plans to collaborate with BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Studios, on a digital wellness series to be produced by BBC StoryWorks for the GWI. For a year, the GWI’s research and executive team worked closely with BBC StoryWorks’ producers on the series, helping to ground it in research and evidence, They issued a “Call for Stories,” tapping the GWI’s global network of wellness leaders to identify individuals and organizations taking a creative and inclusive approach to wellness.

Today we talk with, Simon Shelley, the Vice-President of Programming Partnerships from BBC StoryWorks, who oversaw the creation and launch of the new series. Recently launched at the 2022 GWS in Tel Aviv, In Pursuit of Wellness: The Art & Science of Living Well is expected to reach tens of millions of people globally, and already is one of BBC StoryWorks best performingdigital series.

Simon will discuss highlights from the 22 human-centric wellness stories they crafted on topics like wellness music, wellness design, women’s health, healthy sleep, fighting jet lag, and even how something as perfunctory as going to the hairdresser can be an exercise in wellness. 

This series is a great example of how a mainstream media organization is taking steps to promote wellness in society through a wider lens, taking a dramatically different, more expansive approach to the multi-faceted wellness movement. Leveraging the network and expertise of the GWI, they are able to bring forward stories from different parts of the world to explore what true wellness is—from ancient traditions to modern innovations, taking us on a journey to meet the pioneers pushing the boundaries of wellness in more accessible and achievable directions, and focusing on topics such as body, mind, culture, and design.

When developing the series, the BBC interviewed experts and performed research with audiences to gain insights into wellness, its benefits and the means to attain wellness, exploring some techniques that are currently lacking in public understanding and giving them a scientific underpinning. For example, they interviewed an expert music teacher who spoke about how music can help children with autism, and they interviewed Veronica Shreibeis Smith, an award-winning wellness architect in Jacksonville, Wyoming. They also looked at Chuck Wilde, the founder of Liquid Mind, who creates music to help with sleep and anxiety.

This series is proof positive that wellness is becoming more mainstream, with healthcare and wellness techniques that have been practiced for centuries or even millennia are only now being recognized and understood by the scientific community. That leads us to the question: How do we integrate these ancient practices alongside our conventional healthcare system? It’s a challenge for everyone involved, and it’s a movement that is largely driven by consumers.

One thing stood out above all: We need to try something. The rise in preventable disease and mental health issues is a wake-up call for prioritizing wellness. Whether it’s showing gratitude, incorporating music therapy, or setting up an office that promotes productivity and happiness, In Pursuit of Wellness aims to get people to understand the benefits of wellness and to encourage them to pursue individual and collective well-being. It is also an excellent example of how the media can be used to track audience sentiments and to help remove barriers to entry when it comes to wellness.

The BBC is a valued ally in the movement to make wellness more accessible, approachable, and understood across the world. With such a trusted voice and far reach, In Pursuit of Wellness is sure to trigger new conversations around comprehension, integration, and democratization of wellness. To learn more, visit Simon Shelley’s work at BBC.com/storyworks.


Sponsored by Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

Hosted by Kim Marshall.

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