2012 has been a big year (OK, it’s still been 365 days, but – particularly for people who care about sport and royalty – ‘Twenty Twelve’ has been rather a whopper). So what has been the biggest WELLBEING NEWS of the year? Here’s a little selection of some of the high-lights, including a few suggestions from the twittersphere:
First World Happiness Report Launched
First World Happiness Report launched at the United Nations on 02/04/12: This report illustrated that the happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands), and that the least happy countries are all poor countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone). However, it is not just wealth that makes people happy: political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are together more important than income in explaining wellbeing differences between the top and bottom countries. At the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are crucial.
World Happiness Report - Response
In response to the World Happiness Report, Jeffrey Sachs argued in the Huffington Post: ‘How the right [specifically the American Right] is wrong about happiness’, since ‘social democracies are far and away the happiest places on the planet’, with high taxes and economic prosperity which is shared Sachs argues: ‘In short, happier places are happier because they combine economic prosperity with social trust, a sense of equality, leisure as well as work, and good and honest governance.’ (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/how-the-right-is-wrong-ab_b_2340130.html).
The Personal Health Budget
Whether you agree with the controversial introduction of the Department of Health’s Personal Health Budgets (an amount of money given to someone, intended to help them design a package of care support from clinicians and others, and give them more control over the nature of the treatment provided), or not, they have certainly been an impactful development to the personalised care of adults with long-term conditions. First introduced as a pilot programme in 2009, over the last year the scheme has gained momentum, with the roll out of personal health budgets announced by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb on 30 November 2012. The Personal Health Budgets Evaluation was also published that month (https://www.phbe.org.uk/) by the DoH, and the King’s Fund felt it gave ‘encouraging news for those who believe that giving patients greater choice, flexibility and control can improve their quality of life. The scheme offers personal budgets to people with long-term conditions to cover non-medical support services such as therapy and nursing services, home care, day care and meal services, complementary therapies, mobility assistance, leisure services and equipment’
Ed Miliband on Mental Health
In October 2012, Ed Miliband delivered his speech on mental health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, declaring: ‘It is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’. As well as some key points about people’s fear of the unknown, the economic impact of mental ill health, the importance of breaking the taboo and silence around mental illness, he also spoke about the challenge of stigma and how people in the public eye should be doing all they can to combat this. He mentioned how ‘Marcus Trescothick, Stephen Fry, Fiona Phillips, Labour’s Alastair Campbell and Kevan Jones, and politicians from other parties, like Charles Walker, have all been exceptionally brave in sharing their own painful stories with our country’, but berated Janet Street-Porter for saying ‘that depression is the latest must-have accessory’ promoted by the “misery movement’’, and Jeremy Clarkson for calling people who tragically take their own lives as “Johnny Suicides” whose bodies should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys’.
MIND charity: One in Five
On a related note, in November 2012, the charity Mind released new statistics showing one in five people who’ve experienced a mental health problem have sought help directly because they’ve been inspired by a celebrity speaking in the media about their own mental health, calling this The Fry, Flintoff, Bruno and Pendleton Effect