Promoting mental wellbeing

Mental wellbeing is affected by the policies and practices of governments and employers, and by the environments in which we live and work.

Implemental can help governments, community-based organisations and employers take action to improve the mental wellbeing of citizens, service users and employees. We can share with you our knowledge of international evidence, and our experience of putting the evidence into practice.

Research shows that people who have mental wellbeing:

• have less physical illness
• are less likely to have mental health problems
• take less time off work
• are more productive and creative
• are less likely to become ‘burned out’
• have better social relationships
• do better at school and college
• are likely to lead a healthier lifestyle
• are less likely to take their own lives
• are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour, crime or violence.

We use two techniques that help promote mental wellbeing, both in the community and in the workplace – the Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment and Wheel of Wellbeing activities.

Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment

The Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) is a process that helps you gauge the likely impact – both positive and negative – of a new policy, a proposed development or project on people’s mental wellbeing. By undertaking an assessment, you are able to take action to mitigate any potential negative impact.

A ‘toolkit for wellbeing’ is a step-by-step guide to carrying out a Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment, and includes evidence-based information about what factors influence mental wellbeing, and how to improve it. The toolkit is free to download here

The 140-page ‘toolkit’ was published in its current form in 2011 and has been used hundreds of times since by local and national government departments, statutory and community-based organisations, project managers, team leaders and employers to help them carefully consider the impact of any proposal or policy on the mental wellbeing of a specific group of people. For a government, that might be a section of the population, for an employer, it might be a group of staff, for a local authority or community-based organisation, it might be people living in a particular neighbourhood, for a housing organisation, it might be a group of tenants.

The assessment process includes working with representatives of groups of people who are likely to be affected by the proposal or policy.

Screening and full assessment

A MWIA ‘screening’ is a standalone process that enables you to make an initial assessment and decide whether to carry out a full assessment. A screening can be completed by a small group of people – normally those making the proposal – within about two-and-a-half hours.

The full assessment is a much lengthier process. Representatives of all groups likely to be affected are invited to a workshop to debate potential impacts and co-produce a plan to lessen any negative impacts. In addition, you separately collect information about the population likely to be affected, and any existing evidence about the likely impact of your proposal.

A report is produced for both a screening and full assessment to inform the development of the plan or proposal.

What Implemental offers

• Introduction to the MWIA workshops – to help you decide if the process can help your organisation.

• Training to use the whole toolkit and carry out a full assessment.
The eight-day training includes three days of theory and a practical hands-on facilitated assessment. In the UK, this training is accredited by the Royal Society of Public Health.

• Training to carry out an MWIA ‘screening’. The three-day training includes classroom-based theory and an opportunity to practise using the screening tool in a real-life situation, with support from your trainers.

• We can teach you how to train other people to carry out a MWIA screening. The two-day training includes theory and an opportunity to practise using the screening tool in groups. It then costs £250 a year to be certified by Implementall as an MWIA screening trainer. Certified trainers can pass on their skills, free of charge, time and time again.

• You can also commission Implemental to undertake an MWIA screening/full assessment for you.

All our training and MWIA assessments are carried out by Implemental associates who were involved in the development of the MWIA – Anthea Cooke and Tony Coggins.

Tony Coggins is a former Head of Mental Health Promotion at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; Anthea Cooke is a health and wellbeing specialist, previously co-director of Inukshuk, a small public health and wellbeing consultancy.

Please note, the MWIA and our MWIA training is currently only available in English.

Wheel of Wellbeing activities

The Wheel of Wellbeing (WoW) is an easy-to-use technique that prompts individuals, communities and companies to engage in, and create, activities that nurture mental wellbeing.

Implemental can train you to use the Wheel of Wellbeing and its associated activities, and help you understand why boosting wellbeing can help improve people’s mental health, physical health, resilience and productivity. Visit the Wheel of Wellbeing website – the site was first created by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with a grant from the Maudsley Charity and is now maintained by Implemental.

The wheel consists of six domains that are associated with ‘actions’ proven by research to contribute to wellbeing.

Five of the wellbeing actions were first identified in the Foresight Report Mental Capital and Wellbeing; making the most of ourselves in the 21st century, published by the UK Government Office for Science in 2008.

They are:

• connect... with the people around you, with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, at home, work, school or in your local community;
• be active... go for a walk or run, step outside, cycle, play a game, garden, dance: exercising makes you feel good.
• take notice… be curious, savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.
• keep learning... try something new, rediscover an old interest, sign up for that course, take on a different responsibility at work, fix a bike, learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.
• give... do something nice for a friend, or for a stranger, thank someone, smile, volunteer your time, join a community group.

The Wheel of Wellbeing domains associated with these five actions are:

• People (connect)
• Body (be active)
• Place (take notice)
• Mind (keep learning)
• Spirit (give)

In addition, the Wheel of Wellbeing has a sixth domain – Planet. The action associated with this domain is ‘care.’ This is based on a finding from the new economics foundation that countries ‘with significantly smaller ecological footprints have higher levels of life expectancy and satisfaction’ (nef, 2009).

Wheel of Wellbeing activities

A number of activities have already been developed to support each domain, and individuals and community groups are encouraged to create their own activities and share them through the Wheel of Wellbeing website. Many of the activities are based on the principles of ‘positive psychology’.

What Implemental offers

• One-day introductory Wheel of Wellbeing workshops, or a two-hour introductory taster session, to help you decide if the Wheel of Wellbeing and associated activities are right for your community/workplace.

• Training about the importance of wellbeing, the principles of positive psychology, the concept of the Wheel of Wellbeing and how to develop and adapt WoW activities for your own community/workplace, and incorporate WoW principles into professional practice. The training was developed by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Implemental is licensed to deliver it – either over an eight-week period, or during an intensive four days. At the end of the course, participants are licensed for a 12-month period (by Implemental) to train other people about wellbeing (participants cannot charge for this training). They have access to specially-designed MI resources to help them do this.

All training is carried out by Tony Coggins, an Implemental associate who was involved in the development of the Wheel of Wellbeing. He was formerly head of Mental Health Promotion at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Please note, the Wheel of Wellbeing website, resources and training are currently only available in English.


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