Over 50 years of wellbeing research suggests that governments could improve wellbeing, and reduce wellbeing inequalities, by focusing on:
- Mental Health, social & emotional skills, partner relationships and physical health
- Community wellbeing including social support, volunteering, giving and social contectedness to reduce loneliness
- Balanced stable economic growth, low unemployment and wellbeing at work
- Good governance including devolving power, anti-corruption, freedom to choose, faster, less contracted, processes especially for children and families
At an individual level there are five ways to wellbeing – Give, Connect, Take Notice, Be Active, Keep Learning.
Does this Queen’s speech address any of these?
- The life chances approach is an opportunity to address inequalities in wellbeing that lead to poor outcomes both for those individuals involved and the affect on our national and community wellbeing. We all benefit from reduced inequalities in wellbeing. The proposed indicators for life chances needs to include personal wellbeing.
- There is a a focus on better mental health provision for individuals in the Criminal Justice System, on speeding up processes for children in care, and for adult learning. Improving the speed and efficiency of court processes should improve governance which has an unexpectedly large impact on our wellbeing. We’re not always great at looking after our future wellbeing so the focus on savings should help. There is potential for digital services to help connect people, improve services and increase learning as well as growth.
- The National Citizen Service has been shown to have positive lasting wellbeing impacts so its extension is welcome. It will be important to make sure that the impacts are sustained as it expands. Increasing giving through the Small Charitable Donations Bill should be positive for wellbeing too.
- Commuting is one of the few things that has a sustained negative impact on our wellbeing so improving services and giving greater control through access to information is welcome.
- Continued support for devolution of powers appears in many of the proposed Bills. This promises greater autonomy, freedom and control and we need to see if these new powers do lead to these outcomes and increase our wellbeing. Likewise support for the Sustainable Development Goals, which takes a wellbeing approach at a global level, is promising and should include the measurement of personal wellbeing.
Why this matters
Our national wellbeing is how we are doing as individuals, communities and as a nation and how sustainable this is for the future. It is measured by the Office for National Statistics and covers – the natural environment, personal well-being, our relationships, health, what we do, where we live, personal finance, the economy, education and skills and governance. Our personal wellbeing is particularly important as a way to see how we’re doing overall and it impacts the other outcomes.