Our Chief Executive comments on ONS’s latest wellbeing stats

Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA, gives her view on the Office for National Statistic’s latest wellbeing figures.
Rosi Prescott, Central YMCA’s Chief Executive

This comment relates to the latest report measuring national well-being in the UK issued by the Office for National Statistics in September 2016.

While it’s positive to see that some aspects of overall wellbeing are improving, there is still heaps of work to be done – especially in the areas which matter most: health and mental wellbeing.

Indicators reporting satisfaction with overall health have deteriorated, while those reporting evidence of depression or anxiety have risen.

These figures are disappointing, yet not a surprise.

Work and education pressures, isolation as a result of the rise of ‘always on’ social networking, and financial pressures as a consequence of growing financial inequality and rising tuition fees, are all likely to have contributed.  

These findings ring true with July’s report from the Boston Consulting Group which revealed that the UK is lagging behind when it comes to translating economic growth to increased wellbeing.

Unfortunately, the UK’s performance has long been judged too heavily on economic outcomes, rather than good health and mental wellbeing; the country is better off financially than it has been in recent years, but this financial growth has simply not translated into better wellbeing as effectively as it should have.

Both sets of disappointing statistics come just months after the release of  our World of Good report, which questioned over 1,6000 16 to 25-year-olds on the biggest issues facing them today. It revealed that a number of concerns relating to wellbeing are very present for today’s youngsters.

Ranked on an index out of 100, concerns relating to failing within the mainstream education system (92), body image (86), and lack of employment opportunities (100) came out as the three top concerns for young people, while issues relating to substance abuse (78) and family breakdown (81) also ranked highly.   

I hope these recent reports, teamed with the research we’re currently doing around wellbeing in the UK across various demographics, raise some serious questions for decision makers.

The wellbeing of our nation’s individuals should be our number one priority, before we fall even further behind neighbouring countries like Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, who outstripe us in this regard.

Rosi Prescott

Central YMCA’s Chief Executive

Rosi Prescott is responsible for running the world's first YMCA – Central YMCA – which operates locally, nationally and internationally. Rosi joined the organisation in 2004 and has played a huge part in the revolution which has taken place within Central YMCA over the past decade. In particular, she has spearheaded a number of high profile campaigns addressing issues such as body image, peer-to-peer health, apprenticeships and youth unemployment.