What is wellbeing?

Before we interpret our scores it is important to first understand a little but about what wellbeing is and is not.  We tend to think about wellbeing as modern concept but it’s something that has been around since the times of ancient Greeks (Aristotle  was very interested in how and why human’s flourish).  In a modern sense we view wellbeing as made up of two elements the Hedonic (feeling) and the Eudaimonic (functioning).

Wellbeing is an important concept because it seeks to measure practical elements of our mental health rather than just looking for the presence of symptoms that might equate to psychiatric disorders.  We do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to have low wellbeing, there are lots of things that might affect how well we are feeling and functioning (and vice versa someone with a mental health diagnosis could at various times be feeling and functioning well).  Wellbeing is related to poor mental health because if we are experiencing poor wellbeing for extended periods it can put us at risk of developing mental health conditions.   The really useful thing about measuring wellbeing therefore is it can work as kind of mental health fitness test which can then draw attention to problems before they happen (a bit like testing your blood pressure might give us a warning that we need think about our physical health & diet a bit more)

The Warwick & Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWEBS)

The WEMWEBS is one of the most widely used and respected measure of wellbeing we currently have.  It measures both hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing and translates it into a simple score.  It is important to remember however that individual scores are always hard to interpret as they are subject to individual differences.  The WEMWEBS is much more useful for group averages just the same way BMI is.  What we really need to make sense of any score is something to compare scores to.  This is something we are attempting to do in census for pupils and teachers, to create an average metric in Birmingham which we can then compare scores to.  Eventually once we have collated all teachers scores, we will share them with you here so you can compare your scores to the city average (and in the future this could tailored to specific localities within the city).

Interpreting the Warwick & Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWEBS)

The range of the WEMWEBS is 14-70 (70 being the highest score).  The most commonly cited population study (WEMWEBS Population Norms in Health Survey for England data 2011) put cuts offs as:

60-70 being the highest (about 15% of people score within this range)

42-59 being the most common (about 70% of people score within this range)

42-14 being the lowest (about 15% of people score within this range)

You can learn more about the WEMWEBS and research surrounding it here.

Whatever your score you might want to take a look at our teachers wellbeing section of our website.