Resource round up and Centre update

During the election period we’re not publishing any new evidence, but we’ll still have a great line up of blogs, case studies and some useful resources to make sure you get your wellbeing evidence into practice  fix.

Workplace wellbeing
If you haven’t already downloaded it and posted it up on your office noticeboard (or whatever hi-tech equivalent you’re using), here’s our handy one-page factsheet on the latest evidence for wellbeing benefits at work.

And once that’s whetted your appetite, you can dip into our briefings on learning in the workplace and designing a good quality job.

Resilience in hospices and mental health in the media
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and we’re sharing two case studies that link with this year’s theme of surviving and thriving. Hospice UK give us an insight into a programme to improve staff wellbeing in an emotionally demanding environment. Meanwhile, Mind’s peer education for professionals is a look an an ambitious project that successfully challenged mental health stigma by training journalists.

Share your evaluations
We’ve currently got two calls for evidence live:

We will be putting out more calls throughout the year, and you can follow us on Twitter @whatworksWB for updates when these come out.

Other resources
You can find all of our evidence, research and guidance on the following themes:

Up next
After 8 June, here’s just a taster of what you can expect:

  • new evidence reviews on dance and sport and adult learning
  • guidance for community organisations on measuring personal wellbeing
  • a one-stop set of wellbeing indicators for local authorities
  • a round up of the evidence on green space and wellbeing
  • a discussion paper on community wellbeing.

 

 

 

 

A budget to increase wellbeing in the UK? #Budget2017

The purpose of our economic growth is to improve the quality of life and prosperity of people in the UK.  This budget has some potential wellbeing gains, but also misses some opportunities which we set out  yesterday. 

The Chancellor’s focus on opportunity through learning and training is backed by the research: evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life is not only useful for developing skills and improving job prospects, it can improve and maintain our mental wellbeing. Unemployment has a bigger impact on our wellbeing than loss of earnings and it will be interesting to see what difference the support for returning to work makes to wellbeing of those out of the labour market in caring roles where evidence is currently missing. Likewise, the Living wage increase should see wellbeing impacts as the wellbeing impact of increased income is  greater for lower paid than better off, pound for pound.

What this budget does miss is mental health which has the biggest impact on our satisfaction with life – this is important enough that it deserves special mention.

Nancy Hey, Director, What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Work

Unemployment is always damaging to wellbeing. Men tend to suffer more from unemployment, however new evidence suggests women who are committed to their careers suffer more than men. Return to work is good for wellbeing but it has to be good work

Sara Connolly, Professor of Economics at the University of East Anglia. Work, Learning and Wellbeing Programme.

  • £5m for return to work schemes positive for wellbeing. Extended breaks in employment, especially when they are unplanned, have a significant and scarring effect on wellbeing.The support for working parents and return to work schemes could be particularly powerful for certain groups for whom wellbeing is lower. But there is no evidence yet about how the transition into and out of caring roles impacts wellbeing. Research in this area would fill an evidence gap.
  • Business rate changes help local employers. Support of small and medium local businesses through the Business Rates measures could have a positive impact on wellbeing – employees of smaller businesses tend to have higher life satisfaction than those from larger employers.
  • Self-employed are a diverse group.  Some evidence suggests that the self-employed in the UK have higher wellbeing, but one study suggest that the benefits of self-employment are limited to the better off [1] and those in temporary jobs have lower wellbeing. Flexible work is good, but lack of control in work is bad for wellbeing.

Tax changes for female self-employed might discourage women from re-entering or entering the workforce and lower wellbeing. The changes could also have negative wellbeing impacts for learners who are working self-employed to finance part time study.”

Kevin Daniels, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of East Anglia. Lead investigator of Work, Learning and Wellbeing Programme.

Learning and Training

  • The Department for Education will pilot different approaches to encouraging lifelong learning. Evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life is not only useful for developing skills and improving job prospects; it can improve and maintain our mental wellbeing.  The investment of £40m to pilot different approaches to test what works for different approaches to lifelong learning is a sign that better evidence is key to making better decisions for our quality of life.  
  • Changes to training has the potential to re-balance wellbeing gains for different groups. Currently, lower level and technical qualifications result in lower financial and wellbeing returns than hIgher education qualifications.

Will Vocational Education and Training shakeup convince employers that qualifications have value? If not could be bad for wellbeing of learners. Government investing in VET training will only be good news if young workers can find good quality jobs to put skills to use”

Olga Tregaskis, Professor of International Human Resource Management at the University of East Anglia. Work, Learning and Wellbeing Programme.

  • Education for wellbeing is missing. The most recent Good Childhood Report shows us that girls aged 10-15 are less happy than they used to be. Last year’s report showed us that England ranked 14 out of 15 selected countries for wellbeing at school. This matters for the current lives of these children but also for their future – self-control, perseverance, the capacity to delay gratification, and the ability to cope with shocks are strong predictors of adult wellbeing. A wellbeing budget would focus as much attention on building social and emotional skills as on educational attainment. Which will help with productivity in the long run – we know that increasing wellbeing in children improves exam results, future wellbeing and future earnings.

Community Wellbeing

  • Community assets matter. Local pubs, key hubs for community activities, will benefit from tax breaks, and it would be good if more social spaces – libraries, cafes, and other bumping spaces – could also benefit. Children and people from some demographic groups are less likely to access pubs. There was also no formal valuation of common assets – green spaces, shared community resources, heritage buildings – despite evidence that these are important for community wellbeing.
  • Volunteering and giving. There were no announcements on related issues that could help develop community wellbeing – measures, for example, to encourage volunteering and community groups.
  • Quality of relationships. Good partner relationships are second most important factor in our adult wellbeing, so £20m investment in measures to help women escape violent partners and rebuild their lives are welcome. These programmes speak to early years and the stability of positive parenting – protecting women is protecting children (a shocking 200 children are bereaved each year in the UK by men killing their mothers).  The quality of a parental relationship affects the wellbeing of their children and its violent conflict that is the most harmful.

The budget has missed the major opportunities to increase wellbeing: no large roll-out of preventions of mental illness amongst children, no large initiatives in mental health treatment, where mental health problems are a major cause of low wellbeing; no push for flatter and more trusting organisations and ways of delivering services; no strong push against inequality; no moves to push for more pedestrian zones, jobs near homes, cheaper housing, forced parental leave, or increased mandatory holidays, all of which are moves towards more contented lives that put more value on relations.

Paul Frijters, Professor of Economics at LSE and lead investigator of the Cross-Cutting Wellbeing Programme.

Health and Social Care

Policy that values what matters people prioritises dignity and respect.

  • Potential to improve work conditions in the sector. There are not two cultures in the workplace: how you treat staff is how patients will be treated. The quality of care has often come under scrutiny and many working in care homes are unskilled and hold few formal qualifications. The investment of an additional £2bn for social care packages in England over the next three years opens a window of opportunity if directed toward upskilling in this area.  and thus has a positive impact on those who are currently low skilled working in this area. Forthcoming Centre evidence show the wellbeing and productivity gains possible in this sector, through well designed training.
  • Dedicated mental health provision missing. The Budget did not set out any dedicated investment in addressing the increasing demand for interventions that improve mental health. Early years investment in mental health is key to ensuring wellbeing across the life course, so preventative measures and treatments should be supported.

The Chancellor’s announcement of an extra two billion pounds for adult social care is welcome, obviously. All serious commentators realise that there is a crisis in social care and that this puts huge pressures on the already struggling NHS as well as causing massive personal distress. And investment in social care is probably a very wise priority. We need to welcome this investment, but remember that social care, health care and, perhaps particularly, mental health care, are all crucial elements of central government support for wellbeing.

Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, and lead investigator on the Community Wellbeing programme.

Overall economy

The OBR have upgraded their growth forecast from 1.4% to 2% for next year. The level of national income has surprisingly little effect on wellbeing, as long as it does not go down.

Most importantly, the government is not announcing that it will seriously start to experiment with ways to increase wellbeing at all levels of government: no major experiments in teaching, health, the organisation of the civil service, housing, policing, etc. So we are not preparing to learn what works and what we can thus roll out in the future

Paul Frijters,  Professor of Economics at LSE and lead investigator of the Cross-Cutting Wellbeing Programme.

REFERENCES

[1] Blanchflower and Oswald (1998) find a robust positive effect of self-employment using UK data. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (1998). What makes an Entrepreneur? Journal of Labor Economics, 16(1), 26–60.

Alesina et al. (2004) find that the positive effect of self-employment is limited to the rich.

Alesina, A., Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2004). Inequality and happiness: Are Europeans and Americans different? Journal of Public Economics, 88, 2009–2042.

Five ways to Wellbeing in the UK

5The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based actions which promote people’s wellbeing. Whilst not claiming to be the biggest determinants of wellbeing, it’s a set of simple things individuals can do in their everyday lives. They were developed by the New Economics Foundation and based on the findings of the 2008 Government Office for Science Foresight report on Mental Capital and Wellbeing that aimed to develop a long term vision for maximising wellbeing in the UK.

They are

  1. Connect
  2. Be Active
  3. Take Notice
  4. Keep Learning
  5. Give

The 5 ways to wellbeing are integral to many activities that we care about and enjoy. Since their publication, the five ways have had an enormous reach, being used as evaluation frameworks, in school curriculums and by local authorities . They have formed the basis to specific interventions to improve wellbeing that we will be reviewing as part of our community wellbeing programme. 

In 2012, the European Social Survey was the first major survey to include questions directly on the five ways to wellbeing, allowing exploration of patterns of five ways behaviours across Europe for the first time.

fig19The Making Wellbeing Count for Policy research by Cambridge University, City University and the New Economics Foundation looked at this rich survey data and found:

  • People in the UK have low levels of participation in the five ways to wellbeing, compared to peer countries such as France and Germany particularly on Take Notice. With the exception of those aged 65 and over.
  • Having children seems to limit people’s opportunities to take notice in the UK in ways that do not apply in the rest of Europe.  
  • People of working age in the UK connect less than their peers in the rest of Europe, though this deficit also applies to those not in employment, suggesting that it cannot be explained purely in terms of working patterns.
  • Those in the UK aged 25-64 were much less likely to connect than their peers in other countries
  • Young women (15 – 24), parents, and people doing housework or childcare in the UK reported very low rates on Take Notice (whether people take notice and appreciate their surroundings). This finding was not replicated across Europe, suggesting there may be particular barriers in the UK for these population groups which may be amenable to policy.

The figures show the UK’s levels of five ways participation ‘Connect’ compared to other countries. Countries with a GDP per capita of below $30,000 are shaded in lighter blue. Given that the UK has a GDP per capita of almost $40,000 one would expect it to achieve higher participation in five ways than those countries.

connect
Previous research has found that generally, in the UK:  

  • Males are more likely to be active, whereas females are more likely to give and connect.
  • People from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to be active, give and keep learning.
  • The older people are, the less likely they are to keep learning and be active.
  • However, for both Connect and Give, the trend follows a U curve, with people aged 16-25 and 65-74 most likely to engage in these activities.
  • People with qualifications are more likely to keep learning and give.

Case study: Rethinking therapeutic support – Talk for Health

Our emotional health has the biggest impact on our overall wellbeing and quality of life, measured by life satisfaction, and is predictive up to eight years earlier.  Compared to employment for example, the third most important contributor to our wellbeing in adulthood, we know far less about how to improve emotional health.  This is why it is great to see pioneers building the evidence base.

Today’s addition to our case study database is Talk for Health.Talk for health

→ be one of our wellbeing pioneers

What is Talk for Health? 

Talk for Health (T4H) is a small but acclaimed Social Enterprise making therapeutic talk accessible, human and everyday.

Our vision is to build an emotionally healthier world by teaching people the therapeutic talk skills to give and receive effective emotional support.

The core Tt4h-quotesalk for Health training teaches these skills – namely, how to self-reflect and talk truthfully; how to listen and respond empathically, and how to participate in a structured ongoing group. Following this training, people can participate in our network of facilitated ongoing groups for wellbeing.

T4H is based on two powerful evidence-based principles:

  1. That simply having the skills and opportunities to share inner feelings and experiences with supportive others improves mental health and prevents mental illness.
  2. That effective therapeutic talk does not rely on professionals.

t4h-diag

Who do we offer it to? 

Talk for Health is based not on targeting troubled individuals but on building empathic community bonds. It has been found helpful by a wide range of members of the public, who are seeking greater well-being and connection with others.   Currently we deliver Talk for Health in Islington – funded by the NHS – and in Doncaster – funded by the Borough Council.

What are the results? 

We assess our results using the Outcomes Rating Scale (Miller, 2010), a validated instrument for measuring the wellbeing impacts of talking therapies.  Analysis of pre-post wellbeing in over 200 participants from our NHS Islington programme shows that Talk for Health achieves outcomes equivalent to therapy in raising wellbeing.  70% of our Islington participants are clinically distressed at intake and of these, 70% achieve statistically significant improvement with a large effect size.

T4H has been independently endorsed by leading academics in an RSA report Community Capital:  The Value of Connected Communities. In the report, Talk for Health was praised for its sustainable approach of building wellbeing by building community bonds.

 “Talk for Health has the potential to make a great contribution to social well-being by bringing the skills and knowledge of the counselling and psychotherapy field into the wider community. Research evidence indicates that people don’t have to be mental health professionals to be able to bring about positive psychological changes in themselves and others. Talk for Health taps this potential, and offers an accessible and exciting pathway towards greater psychological wellbeing for all.”
Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling, University of Roehampston 

“Talk for Health is a truly innovative and genuinely original proposal.  As someone who has managed the largest psychotherapy service outside London, initiated CBT in this country and set up a counselling service in a number of GP practices, I feel well qualified to endorse Nicky Forsythe’s conclusions about the slow, costly and unsustainable nature of services currently offered. Talk for Health offers a fast, cost-effective alternative that would reach the parts of our society that other therapies don’t reach. I am convinced that the idea is classically simple and highly effective.”
Lionel Joyce OBE, CBE

Please join us

There are many other regions of London and the UK which need our services. We are seeking funders and advocates who can partner with us in transforming the mental health and wellbeing of our communities.  Please get in touch to find out more.

For more information you can visit www.talkforhealth.co.uk 

Reference

Miller, S. D. (2010) Psychometrics of the ORS and SRS:  Results from RCT’s and Meta-Analyses of Routine Outcome Monitoring and Feedback, International Center for Clinical Excellence

MIND (2013), We Still Need to Talk 

→ be one of our wellbeing pioneers

What we are saying about Community Wellbeing counts

Our Public Dialogues looked in part at community
Community wellbeing

Here, the participants from Belfast reflect on discussing community wellbeing in a dialogue setting and the how the findings should be used:

 

Community wellbeing is about support, belonging, safety.

As members of the public we understand community wellbeing as the links between people living in an area with family, friends, school and work providing the backbone. Community resilience is a sense of pride and belonging to a place with positive interaction between people who help each other, are supportive, respectful and have friendly relationships.

Our community wellbeing includes:active communities

  • Basic needs for good quality of life
  • Our connections with others
  • Practical and emotional support especially when negotiating key life stages
  • Effective communication so we are heard, have a voice and stand for something
  • Feeling inspired, pride and part of something bigger

Public dialogues bring together members of the public and policy makers to discuss wellbeing and understand what matters to people.We spoke to a range of policy makers on:

  • why it’s important to talk about wellbeing
  • why are we talking about community,
  • about the value the centre can have across the UK
  • importance of dialogues with the public

→ Discover more about our Public Dialogues:

→ Findings summary

→Community Public Dialogue

→Technical Appendix

Summary Community Evidence Programme Voice of the User report– Short

→ Community Evidence team Voice of the User Detailed report – Long

 

Findings from UK wellbeing public dialogues and the Centre’s delivery plan

We have spoken with over 4,000 people and organisations, including many of you, to develop our plans and the areas for our evidence reviews and analysis.

This included six public dialogues across the UK – in Cardiff, South Tyneside, London, Belfast, Bristol and Falkirk –  in each of our initial evidence themes of Community, Work & Learning and Culture & Sport.  Public dialogues bring together members of the public and policy makers to discuss wellbeing and understand what matters to people.PDsummarycover

Today we published our public dialogue findings alongside feedback from people working on wellbeing and set out our first delivery plan until June 2018.

→ See today’s findings                                                                                       
Key to wellbeing are:

  • feeling safe, financially comfortable, good physical and mental health, good food, job, housing, natural environment and transport
  • feeling loved, respected and appreciated, belonging, positive connections,                   time alone, appreciation of difference and feeling part of something bigger
  • feeling fulfilled, achievement, inspiration, recognition, fun, learning,                     opportunity, control, agency and choice

→ Public dialogue reports and technical appendices

We are also publishing our delivery plan, along with the Community Voice of the User report and a short course on Wellbeing in Policy and Practice :

→Delivery plan

Community Voice of the user report

Wellbeing in Policy and Practice course

→Press release