Measuring success

Measuring wellbeing; measuring success

Webinar 3: Serious about wellbeing: measuring success

Traditionally, measures of mental health have largely been confined to surveys of psychiatric illness. However, in recent years, there has been a major effort to find ways of monitoring both levels of mental health problems and levels of wellbeing in a population. Scotland has made considerable progress in this area and has developed a complete set of indicators for measuring mental wellbeing and the factors that influence mental wellbeing, both for adults and children.

Mental health indicators

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is also developing new measures of national wellbeing. The aim is that these new UK measures will cover quality of life, environmental and sustainability issues, as well as the economic performance of the country. ONS has been consulting across the UK to ask what matters most in people's lives and what is important for measuring the nation's wellbeing

ONS (2011) Measuring what Matters: National Statistician's Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National Wellbeing

Act local

Locally, HWBs may want measures that provide wellbeing information at a range of different levels:

  • individual mental health and wellbeing (mwb)
  • community wellbeing
  • population mwb e.g. within a region, council ward, workplace, prison, school;
  • individual skills or behaviour e.g. physical activity, alcohol; literacy, numeracy;
  • quality of life;
  • use of services e.g. adult education, gyms, counselling;
  • professional practice e.g. prescribing patterns

There is quite a wide range of different scales or measures for capturing wellbeing or different aspects of wellbeing, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses.

Selecting scales to assess mental wellbeing 2008

Currently the most widely used scale at a population level is the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) which is available as a 14 or 7 item questionnaire.


The North West Mental Wellbeing Survey is an example of how the 7 item WEMWBS can be used in combination with other data, e.g. area level deprivation, social relationships, health behaviour, employment status, education, financial difficulties etc., to gain a comprehensive picture of wellbeing and the factors that influence wellbeing in local areas. This has enabled detailed analysis of key determinants of wellbeing across the North West

WEMWBS in the North West

WEMWBS in the North East

Capturing wellbeing impact: logic models

WARM (Wellbeing and Resilience Measure)
is a tool to make the most of existing data about localities, combining familiar statistics on jobs and health with new ways of thinking about how happy and resilient communities are.

Developed in partnership with councils, community groups and national organisations, WARM focuses not just on community needs and vulnerabilities (such as crime or mental illness) but also on community assets (such as strong families and social supports).

WARM measures wellbeing and resilience at a very local level. It can be used to:

  • Measure life satisfaction: Capture information on how well - or not - a community is faring - as part of a routine ‘state of the community' health check or part of a more targeted mapping exercise.
  • Map local assets and vulnerabilities: a general audit of the community or focus on specific issues, such as how to work with vulnerable families, or social capital.
  • Inform local decision-making: a strong starting point for service re-design and developing local initiatives.

Building resilient communities (January 2011) - The Young Foundation

1 January 2012

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