Well, you can get a fair idea by going to a recently released website, “Mapping Health and Wellbeing Boards’ priorities”.
The idea is that you click anywhere on the map and find out what local NHS and local government care systems are up to. As the home page says, “By selecting a theme, for example smoking or healthy living, the map will highlight all areas citing it as one of their health and wellbeing priorities…”
Try it for your locality and see what comes up.
So what are these “Health and Wellbeing Boards?” I hear you say. A couple of years ago the government made far-reaching changes in health and care organisation, so that now, everything to do with health and social care is run by these boards. Important stuff! The idea was to bring everything together under one roof, as it were…
And how is it doing? According to the prestigious King’s Fund, rather well. In October 2013 they wrote, “Our survey suggests that, overall, the new boards have generally made a positive and encouraging beginning.” So far, so good. But here’s a thing. “Health and wellbeing” very often seems to boil down to how we’re all doing physically: smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise (or lack of it), etc. Life expectancy in the UK has certainly risen significantly in recent years, from 71.13 years in 1960, to 75.88 in 1990, up to 80.75 in 2011. Not bad in fifty years!
But is physical health all there is to be said about “wellbeing”? Although the “Mapping” website focuses almost completely on this dimension, health experts seem to think that the two are not the same thing – “health” is in fact just a part of the broader “wellbeing”. As far back as 1946, the World Health Organisation defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” That sounds more than just physical!
Many of the diseases we endure today are not simply down to physical causes (compared with the infections of yesteryear), but have a lot to do with our lifestyles (think obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression). Our bodies show the symptoms, but our minds, emotions and spirits are grappling with the causes: anxiety, stress, and disorientation. These are related to how we live our lives, conduct our relationships, grapple with our jobs, and wonder what our lives are all about! Is it enough to focus on our bodies, or should we be better at engaging our hearts and minds?
Unfortunately this link no longer works | last attempt on 24 January 2018