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Wellbeing Policy

Wellbeing – or the prudential good life – refers to how well someone’s life is going for him or her (Crisp, 2014 ). Increasingly, awareness of the limitations of traditional economic indicators has led researchers to call for scientifi c measures of wellbeing to augment traditional measures (Diener et al., 2009 ; Diener and Seligman, 2004 ; Layard, 2005 ). Th e main problem with measures of per capita production, income and wealth is that they do not attribute direct value to many factors widely viewed as essential to high wellbeing, including relationships, health and happiness (Helliwell, 2006 ). In light of this problem and the attendant research, national governments and multinational organisations are investigating new measures of wellbeing to inform policy making (Diener, 2009 ; Stiglitz et al., 2009 ). Over the last decade, many of these new measures have been incorporated into various policymaking processes (see Diener et al., 2009 ). Within this movement toward new measures of wellbeing, some researchers are calling for the importance of mental health to be recognized by including various measures of mental health in any collection of key policy outcomes (e.g. Bok, 2010 ; Layard, 2005 ; Layard and Clark, 2014 ). To pave the way for a focus on wellbeing policy in the context of mental health and recovery specifi cally (e.g. see Jarden, Jarden & Oades, this volume), this chapter briefl y reviews the history of this debate, the current challenges of using measures of wellbeing and mental health for policy making, and some of the possibilities for meeting these challenges. We conclude that, with public backing, it would be appropriate for governments to measure mental health and wellbeing, and for the resultant data to inform policy making generally, and specifi cally as it relates to mental health .
Chapter in Book
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Weijers, D. M., & Jarden, A. (2017). Wellbeing Policy. In M. Slade, L. Oades, & A. Jarden (Eds.), Wellbeing, Recovery and Mental Health (pp. 24–34). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316339275.005
Cambridge University Press
Published by Cambridge University Press. © Mike Slade, Lindsay Oades and Aaron Jarden 2017.