Call for Evidence: submit your findings on wellbeing and work transitions

What is the relationship between wellbeing and transitions into – and out of – work? Are workers with lower wellbeing more likely to become unemployed, or move into long-term sick-leave, care or early retirement?

Similarly, if you have higher levels of wellbeing, are you more likely to move from worklessness into employment? By worklessness, we mean not being in regular employment or education/training, because of unemployment, retirement, disability and, family care.

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Call for Evidence: wellbeing and work transitions

DEADLINE EXTENSION: 21 December 2016

What is the relationship between wellbeing and transitions into – and out of – work? Are workers with lower wellbeing more likely to become unemployed, or move into long-term sick-leave, care or early retirement?

Similarly, if you have higher levels of wellbeing, are you more likely to move from worklessness into employment? By worklessness, we mean not being in regular employment or education/training, because of unemployment, retirement, disability and, family care.

How can you get involved?

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is carrying out a systematic review to find out how wellbeing affects the probability of transitioning into and out of work for different demographic groups. Although life satisfaction is our preferred measure for wellbeing, evidence of effects of wellbeing that may include stress, mental health, anxiety, and depression are also welcomed.

Do you know of any work which has explored this?

We are particularly seeking the following evaluations:

  1. How individuals’ wellbeing affects transitions into and out of work, duration of worklessness and the subsequent transitions.
  2. The impact of poor wellbeing on the probability of remaining in worklessness.
  3. The impact of improvements in wellbeing on the likelihood of returning to work.
  4. The extent to which the effect of poor wellbeing on worklessness, duration of worklessness and the transitions out of worklessness states vary across groups (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, family status).

We welcome evidence of a qualitative or quantitative nature, provided the evidence meets the criteria outlined below. Studies that use longitudinal methods are preferable. However, we also seek evidence from high quality cross-sectional studies.
What are the criteria?

All examples must be written in English or have an English translation and include an author and date. We can only accept evidence which can be made publicly available.

Please send your submissions electronically to the What Works Centre for Wellbeing ( with the subject line ‘Evidence: Wellbeing and Work Transitions’. All submissions should be received by 21 of December 2016.

For a link to the Protocol on PROSPERO:

Music, singing and wellbeing: what works? New review of evidence

untitled-1Today the What Works Centre for Wellbeing launches a new systematic review of evidence from around the world into what works, and with whom, for music and singing interventions.

For the first time, all available evidence has been collated and the strength of evidence has been measured. Decision-makers in charities, local authorities and funding bodies, or any organisation involved with the delivery of support services, can see which groups in society have improved wellbeing after participating in music and singing projects, or listening to music, and where the evidence gaps are.

Read more and download the reports

Evidence into action: singing is good news for care homes

care-homeSome of the strongest evidence in the What Works review is on the benefits of group singing for older people. Here, an initiative that has successfully championed participatory singing in residential care settings for older people shares how they implemented evidence of the positive connection between singing and wellbeing in older people.

“The regular inclusion of singing and live music activities in residential care homes can support positive responses to Care Quality Commission’s assessment questions,” says a new report.

The report is part of an initiative entitled A Choir in Every Care Home, and is based on a year’s intensive work investigating the growing evidence for the benefits of singing. It includes the largest ever review of the published evidence about music for older people, and its findings on quality assessments have been endorsed by the regulator itself, the CQC.

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, says: “Creativity and innovation are key ingredients in outstanding care homes, and regular singing and live music activities can help care homes positively address all five key questions our inspectors ask of care homes.”

A Choir in Every Care is a unique collaboration between 33 leading national organisations from adult social care, music and academic research. It is led by Live Music Now, Sound Sense and Canterbury Christ Church University, and supported by the Baring Foundation.

The findings from the first year of work were announced at the Arts In Care Conference on 24 May 2016, at an event jointly hosted by the National Care Forum and Care England. Consortium leader Evan Dawson of Live Music Now says: “We are all very excited by the evidence we have collected about the power of singing for older people. It’s encouraged us to be bold in recommending unequivocally that all care homes should introduce more music into the lives of their residents, staff and carers. It can be done at relatively low cost, and everybody benefits. There’s nothing else like it.”

The investigation has included surveys of over 400 care home staff and musicians, in-depth case studies, and the largest review of the academic literature ever, carried out by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre at Canterbury Christchurch University.

Of the research, Professor Stephen Clift says: “Taken as a whole, research on group singing for older people shows convincingly that singing can be beneficial for psychological and social wellbeing, and that it may be helpful in helping people to manage a wide range of health issues, including mental health challenges and physical health problems associated with chronic respiratory illness and Parkinson’s. It is clear also that singing activity can positive engage people across a spectrum of severity with dementia.”

The initiative has created a set of resources and toolkits to help both care homes and musicians to do more and better singing in care homes, together with 350 pages of research data and findings, all available at

“But we have only just started,” says consortium partner Kathryn Deane of Sound Sense. “We are now planning a large-scale campaign, training and support programme to enable, over time, every single one of the UK’s care homes to become a singing home.”

Evidence of the impact of bullying on children


Image from the Good Childhood Report

To mark anti-bullying week (14-18 November) this week’s guest blog is from Claire Shenton, Senior Research Officer on Children’s Wellbeing at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Larissa Pople, Senior Researcher at The Children’s Society, and Gwyther Rees, an Honorary Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Unit, University of York and one of the principal investigators of the Children’s Worlds project. The Children’s Society and the University of York have been collaborating on the programme of research on children’s subjective well-being discussed in this post for over a decade.

The long-term impact of bullying is something that Children’s Society and ONS monitors regularly as part of the Good Childhood Report and the Children’s Measures of National Wellbeing. The Children’s Worlds study provides an international context within which to understand the relative size and scope of the problem here compared to other areas of the world. The What Works Centre for Wellbeing are also looking at wellbeing over the life course using longitudinal data to track how wellbeing in childhood relates to outcomes in adulthood. Their findings will be published within the next year.

Childhood bullying is a topic that is sometimes trivialised. But research, alongside evidence from longitudinal studies, shows that bullying needs to be taken seriously. As part of National Anti-Bullying Week (14-18 November), ONS and The Children’s Society give an overview of some of their analyses on bullying in both a national and international context.

Estimates from ONS, based on 2013 to 2014 Understanding Society data suggest that around 12% of children in the UK aged 10-15 have been bullied at school (either physically, in other ways, or both). ONS analysis found that there was no difference in the estimated overall prevalence between boys and girls and that there was no change in the prevalence overall between 2009-2010 and 2013-2014.

The Children’s Worlds study looks at bullying in more detail in an international context, drawing a distinction between physical bullying and being left out by other children (also known as ‘relational bullying’). Compared to the 15 other countries included in the Children’s Worlds study, England is ‘fairly average’ for the prevalence of physical bullying, but has the highest incidence of all participating countries of relational bullying, with 50% of children reporting being left out by other children. The issue particularly affects girls in England who were 40% more likely to experience this type of bullying than boys.

Being bullied has a profound effect on children’s well-being – it can affect a child’s sense of self-worth, disrupt their education and potentially lead to mental ill-health.

The Children’s Society found that children who had been bullied frequently were six times as likely to experience low subjective well-being (36%) as those who had never been bullied (6%).


ONS also used Understanding Society data to look at the relationship between bullying and children’s mental ill-health. In 2013-14, children who were bullied frequently were over 4 times more likely to report highly on a measure of mental health difficulties (41%) than those who were bullied less frequently or not at all (10%).


Experience of bullying appears to also have a bigger impact on children’s well-being than many issues that usually concern policy makers. According to analysis by The Children’s Society, recent experiences of bullying accounts for as much of the differences in subjective well-being between children as a range of personal and family characteristics combined, including poverty, family structure, disability, ethnicity, age and gender.

The effects of bullying can have long-lasting negative implications for individuals and society. Longitudinal research which follows the same people throughout their lives shows that the effects of childhood bullying can last well into adulthood.

Children who are bullied—and especially those who are frequently bullied—continue to be at risk for a wide range of poor social, health, and economic outcomes nearly four decades after exposure.

Takizawa et al (2014)


Call for evidence: Adult community learning and wellbeing

UPDATED DEADLINE:  15 December 2016

The What Works for Wellbeing Centre is conducting a review of the relationship between adult learning and wellbeing. The review is not looking at learning or training that takes place in the context of work – since this was the focus of our first review – or learning which takes place as part of a continuation of formal education.

We are interested in all forms of adult learning that do not happen in schools, universities, or workplaces and how this impacts on people’s wellbeing, such as:

  • informal and non-formal forms of learning
  • adult learning that takes place in further education colleges
  • hobby learning, or learning for leisure
  • adult and family literacy, or numeracy
  • community based learning and training
  • the university of the third age.

Why are we reviewing learning and wellbeing?

Learning is considered important for well-being in a range of ways. But direct links between learning and wellbeing are not robustly established. Learning mechanisms that support wellbeing are not well understood. Our review seeks to address these gaps by bringing together existing evidence to answer the following questions:

  1. In the context of adult learning, to what extent are wellbeing outcomes influenced by learning outcomes and the features of the learning process?
  2. How are the wellbeing outcomes of learning influenced through other factors (such as characteristics of the learner, the learning setting, etc)?

How can you get involved?

We are looking for high quality evidence that addresses these questions. We are particularly seeking evidence that meets the following criteria:

  1. Evaluation studies with assessments of wellbeing taken before and after the learning process – this is to allow us to determine whether the learning process produced any changes in wellbeing subsequent to its introduction.
  2. Evidence that includes comparison groups that did not participate in the course of learning are particularly welcome.
  3. Studies which look at how wellbeing is impacted by either the learning process or outcome and those which look at both.
  4. Evaluations of learning which does or does not have an explicit wellbeing aim.
  5. Evidence of impacts on wellbeing may include stress, mental health, anxiety, depression, life or job satisfaction, resilience or self-efficacy.
  6. Qualitative and quantitative evidence is welcome.

All examples must be written in English or have an English translation and include an author and date. We can only accept evidence which can be made publicly available.

Please send your submissions electronically to the What Works Centre for Wellbeing (, with the subject line Call for evidence: Adult Community Learning and Wellbeing.

All submissions should be received by 12 December 2016.


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.


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 


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