How to improve wellbeing?
It starts first with measuring wellbeing, which the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) does on an annual basis, and has done since 2011.
It is also about how we work together – across government, business, charities and our communities – at what really improves people’s lives in a sustainable way.
How to improve wellbeing?
Evidence Knowledge Bank
Between 2016 and 2018, the Centre completed 16 systematic reviews on wellbeing and culture and sport, work and learning and community wellbeing.
From this work, we created an interactive, searchable knowledge bank which consolidates the findings, evidence statements and gaps from the reviews.
Explore the knowledge bank here.
Wellbeing can be a primary consideration at all stages of policy development.
From setting the agenda for a policy and agreeing what is the primary outcome, to evaluating the impact of policy, wellbeing can helpfully provide the overarching goal.
For the more detailed design process of a policy, there is much wellbeing evidence to draw on in terms of what we know can improve outcomes. However, many evidence gaps remain, particularly with respect to how different interventions affect different people.
Policy design for wellbeing can be further complicated by the challenge of understanding the complexities of this multi-dimensional issue that operates at the individual and community level. Selecting the right indicators for wellbeing can be difficult. Yet the process of addressing these complexities can result in more robust policy with broader social gains. It also doesn’t have to happen from scratch, or be insurmountably difficult, as a solid foundation of emerging evidence from UK and overseas research offers a starting place to build the evidence.
Taking part matters: this can be in terms of getting involved in community activities that can affect both physical and mental health; taking part can also help people to increase their skills. Activities that take place in community hubs or heritage buildings or places can improve a sense of belonging and pride. They can also help people to connect to others, which can particularly help in terms of building trust and self-confidence.
Community hubs may improve trust, pride in the local area and social cohesion by bringing together different groups.
Community engagement in decision making can directly impact on wellbeing, when done well. It can also help to build social networks and improve social cohesion.
Volunteering has an impact on physical and mental health, as well as a sense of identity and purpose. It can also help people to build their social relationships and encourage people to continue to volunteer in their communities.
Learning can help people to build confidence, a sense of purpose and help people to progress.
Music, arts and crafts activities can create the conditions for wellbeing. They have been found to have a positive effect on mental health, as well as helping some groups to improve their self-esteem, and others to share their experiences and feel a sense of purpose.
Outdoor activities and exercise have been found to have a positive impact on mental health.
Housing interventions can have a positive impact on physical health, mental health and housing stability.
Employment support that helps people to find work through high quality information and support, as well as working with employers and providing in-work support can help progression and retention.
In our own lives
The Centre focuses on public interventions, policy, and practice that improves wellbeing. We know that a better understanding of what can improve our own wellbeing as individuals has led to the development of popular models. These can be used as intervention frameworks, such as the Five Ways to Wellbeing, PERMA Plus and 10 Keys to Happier Living.
The Centre also advised on the Every Mind Matters digital support service, as well as the Student Space online support for students in higher education.