What Is Health Improvement?

Health is more than just not being ill. The World Health Organisation says health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Health Improvement works to try and help individuals, communities and society achieve this physical, mental and social well-being.

The Shetland NHS Health Improvement Team are based at Grantfield but work the length and breadth of Shetland to help keep people healthy. This is more than just general health, we can offer advice and run programmes on all aspects of our health. Our practitioners cover all local health centres, as well as local communities, schools and businesses. You can find out more about what each individual practitioner does here.

Health Improvement is about making the health of individuals and communities better – there are a few ways that we do this.

We encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families – about things like eating, exercise, smoking and alcohol – and offer practical support to help them do this.

We also encourage and support the Health Board, the SIC, voluntary organisations and businesses to work together to improve health by addressing things like poverty, housing, working conditions, educational opportunities and life/work skills.

Health means different things to different people at different times in their lives, and there are lots of things that can affect your health. The diagram below shows the different “layers” in our lives that can affect our health – it’s not always as simple as making healthy choices!

Health improvement is based on a societal model of health.  We believe that health is influenced by political, economic, social, psychological, cultural and environmental factors as well as biological ones.









We’re looking upstream...

When people talk about Health Improvement they often think about helping people when they are already ill, but this can be difficult and not often successful. If we can get them sooner and help them to improve their health they may not get ill in the first place. This is called Prevention.

Behaviour ChangeHealth Education and Healthy Public Policy are some of the ways we try to improve health and prevent ill health developing.

What Can the Health Improvement Team Offer?

We have lots of resources to help people in Shetland stay healthy. Whether you are a professional looking for educational resources or you just want to pick up a few leaflets, please feel free to get in touch.


We stock leaflets on a wide range of health subjects, including mental health self-care, how to give up smoking, alcohol awareness, physical activity and nutrition. If you have a specific request, get in touch.

If you have difficulties in reading small print or understanding some health information you can find easy read health leaflets here.

Communication Support

Communication is important in order to live the healthiest life we can. Some people find communication hard, and might need support to help understand things. There are lots of ways we can support good communication. Click here to explore.

Teaching Aids

We have a selection of teaching aids suitable for use with both children and adults. Visual, audio and interactive resources can help support learning. Our teaching aids cover the following topics: mental health, smoking, nutrition, physical activity and alcohol.


We can also offer a range of training. Click here to find out more.

Online Resources

There are many useful resources available online. We have included some online resources inside our Health Topics pages.

Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator

Alcohol Consumption Calculator