Why is the ONS measuring wellbeing?
Feeling good and doing well in life are related, so measuring mental wellbeing is as important as measuring GDP, physical health and employment rates. People are more productive and healthier when they feel good about themselves and others. They are also more resilient to life’s difficulties such as family problems, unemployment and ill health. Good mental wellbeing is good for us all. Local authorities need to know they are promoting the mental wellbeing of their residents and health services need to promote and protect wellbeing to support recovery and self management.
What have they found?
Unemployed people rate their ‘life satisfaction’ as less than 7 out of 10 compared with only 20% of employed people. Those who own property report higher levels of life satisfaction. The ethnic group with the lowest average ‘life satisfaction’ was the Black/African/Caribbean/Black British group. Having a partner appears to be related to improved subjective wellbeing. People also place high importance on health in relation to their sense of wellbeing. See http://tinyurl.com/btyln48
What do we know about Lambeth’s wellbeing from our own surveys?
In 2011, 774 residents were asked to rate their health, life satisfaction and wellbeing in our residents’ survey. For mental wellbeing, when compared to data from the North West, respondents in Lambeth were less likely to report ‘all of the time’ to feeling relaxed, dealing with problems well and feeling close to other people. On average Lambeth residents rated their life satisfaction as 7 out of 10. Those who were unemployed, living in North Lambeth and Stockwell were more likely to score 5 or under, whilst those who were in full time employment or retired had higher scores. The survey results demonstrated the strong link between mental wellbeing work, social class, neighbourhood, ethnic group and age.
What are the best things we could do to improve wellbeing in Lambeth?
Promoting mental wellbeing should be central to all Health & Wellbeing Board activity and the strategy should set out the commitment to the wellbeing of Lambeth residents, what this means in practice and how it will be measured. Some examples include:
– Increase parenting programme provision
– School based social and emotional learning programmes and a whole school approach to emotional wellbeing
– Promote wellbeing in the workplace
– Befriending of older adults
– Screen policies to ensure they promote and protect emotional wellbeing
– Ensure good quality housing
– Protect and enhance our green space
– Promote the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ message in healthy lifestyles work
– Measure what matters to people (eg. perceptions of safety, children’s emotional wellbeing)
We’re not starting from scratch!
Lambeth has had strategies and programmes focusing on wellbeing since 2005 more recently the Lambeth ‘Wellbeing and Happiness Programme’ www.lambethfirst.org.uk/mentalwellbeing which has taken a strategic approach to improving mental wellbeing. It has focused on; ensuring public spaces are attractive and safe, that the borough is a vibrant and cohesive place to live, work and learn, that people care about each other and that Lambeth will be a recognised leader in the provision of services that enable local people to achieve, maintain and regain mental wellbeing.
Some of the activities that the programme has delivered include:
– Utilising Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment to review policies and services against the evidence base for improving wellbeing
– Mental Health First Aid & ‘Enhancing wellbeing’ training
– Small grants scheme to enable work on wellbeing
– Expanding timebanking
– Establishing a ‘Best workplace’ category for Lambeth Business Awards
– Community engagement work eg. Brixton Reel Film Festival
– Promoting the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ message
– Work on measuring wellbeing
The work is acknowledged nationally and referenced by Local Government Improvement & Development.
What’s the evidence that improving wellbeing is worth investing time and resource on?
There is a wealth of evidence that suggests good mental welllbeing is related to better outcomes at school, work, in our neighbourhoods and is linked to better physical health and longevity. Action to improve mental wellbeing could therefore have important social and economic benefit. This is backed by NICE guidance, evidence based reports from Foresight and the Department of Health.
For more information contact Lucy Smith, Public Health Manager on 020 3049 4470 or email email@example.com To be part of our wellbeing network in Lambeth and receive regular updates send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
24 July, 2012