The Cultivate Well-Being Action & Transformation Roadmap with a Focus on Students identifies four priority goals, supported by 26 action strategies in total. The Roadmap highlights efforts to create conditions that promote and enhance well-being among students, with an emphasis on reducing health disparities.

To effectively leverage collective action, it is useful to share common definitions of key concepts in the Roadmaps:

Health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition was refined in 1984 by WHO to include “the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to change or cope with the environment.” And in 1986, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion added that “Health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play and love. Health is created by caring for oneself and others, by being able to take decisions and have control over one's life circumstances, and by ensuring that the society one lives in creates conditions that allow the attainment of health by all its members.”

Health cannot be fully understood without also considering the social determinants of health, which are defined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) in the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as “the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks." These determinants can be grouped as follows:

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The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” The GWI also notes that while wellness is an individual endeavor - wherein each person has personal responsibility for their respective choices, behaviors, and lifestyles - it can also be notably influenced by social determinants.

Further, individuals often confuse or use the words health, wellness, well-being, and happiness interchangeably. The GWI observes, “While there are common elements among them, wellness is distinguished by not referring to a static state of being (i.e., being happy, in good health, or a state of wellbeing). Rather, wellness is associated with an active process of being aware and making choices that lead toward an outcome of optimal holistic health and wellbeing.” Wellness actions are the inputs and well-being is a desired output.

Dimensions of Wellness

Georgia Tech is utilizing an eight-dimension model for wellness.

What is Well-Being?

Well-Being is a positive state experienced by individuals and societies. Similar to health, it is a resource for daily life and is determined by social, economic and environmental conditions. Well-Being encompasses quality of life, as well as the ability of people and societies to contribute to the world in accordance with a sense of meaning and purpose. Focusing on Well-Being supports the tracking of the equitable distribution of resources, overall thriving, and sustainability. A society’s well-being can be observed by the extent to which they are resilient, build capacity for action, and are prepared to transcend challenges.

Source: Health promotion glossary of terms 2021. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0IGO.