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.





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

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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 

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Dance to Health through an evidence based intervention

WWCFWB blog - Cheshire Dance 2One of our evidence programmes is looking at the impact of  Culture and Sport on wellbeing, a key element of this will be participation in cultural and sporting activities.

Our newest pioneer case study is from Tim Joss, founder of AESOP, a social enterprise  (‘arts enterprise with  social purpose’) who are kicking off Dance to Health : 10 pilots to deliver fall-prevention exercises to older people through group dance.

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What’s happening now?

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing now has its Board and five teams – four evidence programmes and the central translation hub. Over the next six months we are

1. Doing the job of the Centre by starting to

2.  Getting out to understand further as much as we can about your priorities for evidence synthesis, data analysis and what else you need, to understand what we can do in the UK to improve wellbeing.

  • This is to ensure that the evidence work we do is as relevant as possible and the needs and interests of users and stakeholders are at the heart of what the centre does. Each of the teams are doing this.
  • This includes listening to how people across the UK  think and talk about wellbeing and what matters to them in the public dialogues.
  • It will result in a synthesis of end user engagement which will be the basis of how we prioritise the centre’s workplan of what reviews, analysis, tools and services we do over next three years.

3.  Understanding further how we can translate wellbeing evidence and practice so that it is accessible and easy to use in taking action to improve wellbeing by comissioners, practitioners and others.  

  • This includes working with Big Lottery Fund, Young Foundation Fellows, and soon, the Wellcome Trust and the Alliance for Useful Evidence so that what we do on translation of evidence and supporting implementation and practice is evidence informed.
  • We are understanding how to best to help with
    • implementation of evidence based activities
    • use of the wellbeing data infrastructure
    • evidence informed policy and practice
    • sharing of learning from evidence and practice
  • We are also finding partners, trying things out based on what we know already and learning as we go.

4. Getting clear on how we need to work together as teams within the Centre and with everyone doing the inspiring work happening on wellbeing across the UK.

What can I do? 

Add my view → 

World Happiness Report and Virgin Disruptors debate on Wellbeing in the workplace

As it’s approaching six months since the launch of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and this blog we’ve decided to have a bit of a tidy up. We’ve reorganised some of the menus and added a short introduction video on the About page.

Today sees the publication of the third  World Happiness Report  by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.


Virgin Disruptors are streaming a debate on  Your workplace wellbeing: at what cost?   at 8:00pm BST / 12:00pm PT @virgin #virgindisruptors

virgin_logo_small disruptors_0

We’ve also updated one of our early Pioneer case studies on the Bio-feedback video game for young people’s mental health pilot which has now been evaluated.

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Welsh natural resources improve wellbeing

Our pioneer case study this week looks to Wales and the Come outside!IMG_0284 programme which encourages people to get out and about to enjoy the natural resources. The programme aims to remove barriers and support people to use the natural environment to increase physical activity, improve skills, confidence, and overall wellbeing. This pioneer shows a great use of piloting and scaling ideas.

→ be one of our wellbeing pioneers

We here at the What Works Centre for Wellbeing are also getting out and about to meet as many people as we can. We’re putting the wants and needs of our audience at the heart of what we do. In the last few weeks we’ve been inspired by the people we’ve met in Wales and Northern Ireland. We’re holding a roundtable discussion examining wellbeing in Scotland on the 24th March and visiting Doncaster on the 26th March to look at what’s happening locally and talk to practitioners and policy makers to inform our work. Event details.

Public Mental Health #PMH15 and community approaches to Wellbeing guest blog

The role of community approaches to Wellbeing is explored  in our guest blog this week by PHE’s Gregor Henderson.

Yesterday we were at PHE’s Public Mental Health Summit #PMH15. We heard from and met some inspirational people working in the field of mental health and got great perspectives on how the What Works Centre for Wellbeing needs to be established. IMG_0043There was a lot of discussion around mental wellbeing and wellness alongside the crucial role of communities and the impact of inequalities.  (It would be great to see some work on wellbeing inequalities.) We also heard that there are huge opportunities to draw on much more of the evidence base and give a relatively pioneering area some firm foundations as we improve the quality of the evidence base.

Here’s our presentation

Translation of evidence to make it useful, easy to use and accessible is a key function of a What Works Centre . This means we need to put the needs and interests of users and stakeholders at the heart of what we do so that the evidence is relevant to the challenges they face.  This is also how we get impact from research and share the grey literature, tacit knowledge and experience.  Events like yesterday are great for this.

The Centre aims to support professional evidence-informed practice and encourages bold pioneering and deliberate learning so we can understand how to improve our quality of life.

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Community approaches for wellbeing

Gregor Henderson, National Lead, Wellbeing and Mental Health, Public Health England

GH 2014 PhotoIt’s time to think about community wellbeing. Why? Supportive relationships, strong networks and our ability to engage with others, combined with having some influence on decisions that affect us, are all critical for our wellbeing. Although we know these social factors are important, we often focus on improving the wellbeing of individuals and not on how we build healthy communities. That’s a shame as communities are more than a population of individuals – a healthy community should be a place or set of connections that allow us all to belong, to make a contribution and to flourish.

So what do we need to do to develop confident and connected communities? Public Health England and NHS England have just published a guide to community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing. This identifies a whole suite of interventions, supported by evidence, that can be used to promote wellbeing through communities. Community-centred approaches work by mobilising community assets like skills, local knowledge and social networks, by encouraging active participation and by removing barriers to good health.

What does this look like on the ground? Last year I DSC_0106visited the Hamara centre in Leeds. Hamara means ‘ours’ in Urdu and the organisation offers a range of wellbeing services alongside outreach activities. Hamara was one of the first wave of healthy living centres with a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of the minority ethnic communities in Leeds, where significant inequalities exist. Visiting the centre, you get a sense of an inclusive approach to wellbeing that is rooted in the community.

Like many grassroots community Blogorganisations, Hamara offers a rich mix of activities addressing needs across the life course. One example is the supplementary school project to support primary age children to achieve their potential. There are many other examples of activities that don’t have a ‘Health’ label, nonetheless they address the wider determinants and enable people to gain a sense of control and belonging.

The learning from community organisations like Hamara is significant. Hamara 2We need to be able to capture what they achieve and understand how they build community assets, while remaining responsive and flexible in often challenging times. The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is already providing a platform to disseminate information on Pioneer projects. This knowledge from real life projects complements the overview of community-centred approaches in the PHE guide. Ultimately this is about growing our understanding of what is needed in communities to create the right conditions for people to reach their potential.

Measuring the wellbeing of young people- NPC’s Dan Corry

Today we have a guest blog from Dan Corry, the Chief Executive of NPC reflecting on the measurement of young people’s wellbeing.
Our pioneer case study looks at the  NPC measure in more depth

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Dan Corry, Chief Executive NPC

DanMany of the charities we work with at NPC are trying in different ways to improve the wellbeing of one group or other. But perhaps nowhere is it more important than in thinking about children. Well-being is strongly connected to concepts like resilience, self esteem and self worth, qualities that if present can lead to a fulfilling life whatever the knock backs. Their absence can make for a very difficult future.

The general concept of well-being has enjoyed political backing at the highest level. Yet despite experts agreeing that young people’s school achievement is linked to their well-being. and the efforts of charities like the Children’s Society, we are still frustratingly short of finding an effective way to measure and monitor well-being among children, and to giving it the prominence in policy-making it deserves.

Ofsted have not helped in this. Since 2011 they have shifted their focus towards ‘academic excellence’ and increasingly away from what the Secretary of State disregarded as ‘peripherals’. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has started to measure adult well-being, but is only scoping how to apply this process to children.

Here at NPC we have tried to fill this space by creating something that is easy to use for charities and others, and is academically rigorous . We launched our own Well-being Measure in 2011, after three years developing and piloting the content. Adapting years of work by researchers and academics, it uses a simple online questionnaire to assess the well-being of 11-16 year-olds under eight criteria: self-esteem; emotional well-being; resilience; satisfaction with friends, family, community and school; and life satisfaction.

This means taking an entirely subjective approach, with young people asked to record how they feel about aspects of their lives. This contrasts with ONS proposals, for example, which would focus only on objective measures like sports participation and health. The ideal would be to combine the two—but it should be noted that there has been increasing recognition of the value of subjective approaches in recent years.

Since 2011, our Well-being Measure has been used by more than 50 charities, schools and local authorities, typically to measure the well-being of children both before and after an activity or intervention. This gives some sense of the impact that activity has had on their lives—and in the last three years, the Measure has helped us learn more about the well-being of around 7,000 young people.

Analysing this data, some of the results paint a reassuring picture of children’s lives. Family and friends play an important role. Very large percentages respond positively to statements about them: for example, 90% agreed ‘my friends are great’, 93% ‘I have a lot of fun with my friends, 86% ‘my parents treat me fairly’.

But at the other end of the scale, the greatest dissatisfaction is linked to local community and anxiety. Only 48% agreed that ‘there are lots of fun things to do where I lived’, while 35% children said they ‘worried a lot’ and 24% agreed ‘I am nervous or tense’. Analysis of the data also suggests some alarming fall-offs in well-being for girls in their teenage years, perhaps due to the pressures posed through new technology and abuse or coercion through social media.

We are continuing to develop the Well-being Measure and apply it in new settings. Since last year we have been working with the London Mayor’s Fund to measure change among young people involved in their Be the Best you can Be! programme. It is also being adapted for use with the Tri-Borough London authorities—Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea—so that it can work with children with special needs. (edited to add this is now available).

Measuring well-being is a process which probably never finishes. It’ll always need adaptations and tweaks along the way, so that we can catch as much high-quality, useable data as possible. But at a time when the connections between happiness, achievement and prosperity are under discussion, NPC is proud to have started taking those steps.

Community wellbeing

Here at the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, we think communities are really important to improving wellbeing,  they’re the focus of one of our programmes of evidence.
kfenton blog

Public Health England has today launched a guide to  community centred approaches to health and wellbeing.


Pkfphoto-e1379332487234-147x150rofessor Kevin Fenton , the Public Health England National Director for Health and Wellbeing  blogged about why communities matter to health.


Our pioneer this week reflects the community approach to improving wellbeing, Well London who’s vision is : A world city of empowered local communities, who have the skills and confidence to take control of and improve their individual and collective health and well-being.

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Finally, a reminder that the deadline for applications to become one of our trustees is the 16th Feb at 8am.

Time to Talk Day 5 February 2015

5 ways to wellbeing postcardsConnect, Take Notice  and Keep Learning are 3 of the 5 ways to Wellbeing, today’s post combines the three.

Today is Time to Talk Day lead by the Time to Change campaign urging people to break the silence that surrounds mental health by having a 5 minute conversation


  • Having a mental health problem is hard enough but sometimes the isolation and stigma can make it even worse.
  • Talking about mental health doesn’t need to be difficult and can make a big difference. #TimetoTalk

This  BIG blog post from the BIG Lottery is focused on the challenges faced by projects working with people suffering from mental health issues.


There is just over a week left for applications to become one of our Trustees. The deadline is 16th Feb.


Our Pioneer case study shares the borough-wide approach of Lambeth and Southwark’s Wellbeing programme.

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