Smile Campaign Beams Into Festival Square

Submitted by edg on Tue, 6 Oct '09 4.55pm

The BBC's campaign to encourage the nation to smile its way to better mental wellbeing is beaming into Edinburgh for World Mental Health Day on Saturday, October 10th.

This new campaign highlights the health benefits of simple positive things we can all do every day and asks What Makes You Smile?

Between 11am and 4.30pm on 10th October, the BBC Headroom What Makes You Smile? event hits Festival Square, Edinburgh - and five other cities around the country - with a host of activities and games aimed at putting a grin on faces.

Hosted by BBC Radio Scotland's Raymond Mearns, the event includes: "laughologists" on stage to tickle the city's funnybones; a competitive interactive ‘big smile' game in which the people of Edinburgh can burst dark clouds and turn them into smiles while pitting their wits against the other cities; and other feel good activities for all the family including Tai Chi, clay-modelling and karaoke. And the Big Screen will show the quirky What Makes You Smile films where animated balloons discuss what brings a smile to people's faces.

"Smiling is the universal sign of wellbeing," says campaign Executive Nina Bell. "We want people to tell us what makes them smile. By just thinking about what makes us happy, we already start to feel better and more positive and it's scientifically proven that smiling makes you feel and look happier, healthier and more attractive."

Bell points out that being active and socialising helps people stay mentally well. "The straightforward action of smiling does many positive things that can help boost mood and morale but best of all, smiling is contagious, so not only will they feel happier, but they should be able to share some of that good-feeling around!" she said.

"There is considerable scientific evidence that just the physical act of a smile can induce positive emotions in a smiler," agrees Liverpool University's Professor of Clinical Psychology and Headroom Consultant, Peter Kinderman: "But to really lift your mood you need to make sure that your smile is a real one. So rather than just deliberately grinning, try to bring to mind some things that really make you smile - talking to a loved one on the phone or watching Fawlty Towers - and make sure that your grin is genuine!"

Councillor Paul Edie, Health and Social Care leader for Edinburgh, said: "Just little things like small acts of kindness and good manners can make all the difference but something that always does it for me is the image of Harpo's Marx's ostrich scene in At The Circus - a timeless classic that always brings a huge smile to my face!"

Launched online and on big screens around the country on Tuesday 29th September, the What Makes You Smile? campaign invites celebrities and members of the public to share what makes them smile and encourages people to do something everyday to make them smile, taking a simple step towards better mental health. In a series of animated films, balloons come alive to discuss what it is that makes them smile - from people watching to the rides at Blackpool pleasure beach, growing flowers or singing, each balloon has its own story to tell.