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What is the meaning of Well-being

Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and the ability to manage stress. More generally, well-being is just feeling well!

Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society, because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well. Good living conditions (e.g., housing, employment) are fundamental to well-being. Tracking these conditions is important for public policy. However, many indicators that measure living conditions fail to measure what people think and feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, their positive emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.”Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.

How is well-being defined?


There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfilment and positive functioning. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good. For public health purposes, physical well-being (e.g., feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall well-being. Researchers from different disciplines have examined different aspects of well-being that include the following.

  • Physical well-being.
  • Economic well-being.
  • Social well-being.
  • Development and activity.
  • Emotional well-being.
  • Psychological well-being.
  • Life satisfaction.
  • Domain-specific satisfaction.
  • Engaging activities and work.

5 Major Types of Well-Being

  • Emotional Well-Being. The ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.
  • Physical Well-Being. The ability to improve the functioning of your body through healthy eating and good exercise habits.
  • Social Well-Being. The ability to communicate, develop meaningful relationships with others, and maintain a support network that helps you overcome loneliness.
  • Workplace Well-Being. The ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness, and enrichment professionally.
  • Societal Well-Being. The ability to actively participate in a thriving community, culture, and environment.

How does well-being relate to health promotion?

Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows people to realize their aspirations, satisfy their needs and to cope with the environment in order to live a long, productive, and fruitful life. In this sense, health enables social, economic and personal development fundamental to well-being. Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health. Environmental and social resources for health can include peace, economic security, a stable ecosystem, and safe housing. Individual resources for health can include physical activity, healthful diet, social ties, resiliency, positive emotions, and autonomy. Health promotion activities aimed at strengthening such individual, environmental and social resources may ultimately improve well-being

Useful websites and resources – emotional wellbeing and mental health

Wellbeing Measurement FrameworkTogether with colleagues from the Big Lottery FundCORC, the University of Manchester and Common RoomEBPU have developed and are happy to launch the Wellbeing Measurement Framework (WMF), a suite of measurement booklets for primary school, secondary school, and college students.

When I Worry About Things is a collection of animated films on the BBC Teach website that use personal testimony to explore mental health issues from the perspective of children. Alongside each, there is more information about the content of the film, and suggestions of how it could be used in the classroom.These resources are suitable for use with pupils aged 8-13.

Action for Happiness have produced a Toolkit based on the Action for Happiness Ten Keys to Happier Living framework. A pilot project showed that it led to significant improvements in wellbeing relative to a control group. The toolkit has also been awarded the PSHE Association Quality Mark. The aim of the programme is to promote the emotional wellbeing and resilience of children aged 7-11.

How to teach … mental health, an article from the Guardian Online contains some really useful links and ideas for teaching about mental health to primary and secondary age pupils.

STEM4 is a charity aimed at improving teenage mental health by stemming commonly occurring mental health issues at an early stage. They provide information on identification, intervention and effective management of commonly occurring teenage mental health issues. This information is shared through a website, workshops for schools and conferences.

Mandown is a teaching resource pack and short film aimed at stimulating discussion around the need for men/boys to talk about mental health. The resource is aimed at young people in Key Stages 3-5.

AcSEED  Supporting emotional wellbeing in schools.

ChildLine  A confidential service, provided by the NSPCC, offering free support for children and young people up to the age of nineteen on a wide variety of problems.

Counselling MindEd  is an online resource within MindEd that provides free evidence-based, e-learning to support the training of school and youth counsellors and supervisors working in a wide variety of settings.

HeadMeds   Website developed by the charity YoungMinds providing general information about common medications that may be prescribed for children and young people with diagnosed mental health conditions.

MindEd  MindEd provides free e-learning to help adults to identify and understand children and young people with mental health issues. It provides simple, clear guidance on mental health to adults who work with children and young people, to help them support the development of young healthy minds.

Place2Be is a charity working in schools providing early intervention mental health support to children aged 4-14 in England, Scotland and Wales

Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPSYCH) Parents and Youth Info index PCPSYCH provides specifically tailored information for young people, parents, teachers and carers about mental health.

The Samaritans DEAL Programme  helps schools to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that young people need to cope with the challenges in life and look after their emotional health and wellbeing. It aims to promote emotional health among young people aged 14-16.

YoungMinds  is a charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Storybow  is an online library of educational stories about social emotional topics for children aged about 3 to 12. The stories, each beautifully illustrated and accompanied by extension activities, can be used either in primary schools, counselling / psychology practices or at home.

This Emotional Health and Wellbeing booklist (Word) provides titles of books for children, young people and adults linked to a wide range of topics including bereavement, mindfulness and more general information on the topic.

More specific websites

Eating disorders                              

YoungMinds YoungMinds is a UK charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

B-eat   Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK beat their eating disorders.

NHS choices – eating disorders  The NHS choices page has information, advice and guidance about eating disorders.

Self harm and eating disorders in school: A guide to whole school strategies and practical support, Pooky Knightsmith. This guide provides information and guidance on how to help students from whole-school policies to day-to-day strategies.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD-UK is the charity dedicated to improving the mental health and well-being of almost one million people in the UK whose lives are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

NHS choices – obsessive compulsive disorder The NHS choices page has information, advice and guidance about OCD.


Understanding self-harm (PDF) Mind has produced a booklet for anyone who self-harms, and their friends and family. It explains what self-harm is, the reasons for it and how to go about making changes.  It includes self-help ideas and information about other forms of support.

Young Minds have a range of resources to help people to understand more about self-harm and where to access support.


Papyrus  provide confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried that a young person may be having suicidal thoughts. They also help others to prevent young suicide by working with and training professionals.

HopeLineUK (0800 068 41 41) is a specialist telephone service staffed by trained professionals who give non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to:

Anyone who is concerned about a young person;

Children, teenagers and young people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling.

The Samaritans have produced a step-by-step guide for schools to support responding to (and preparing for) a suspected or attempted suicide within the school community.

Exam stress

NHS Choices  has some useful information about managing exam stress.

Childline provide useful advice for parents and young people around exam stress and pressure.

Anxiety and panic attacks

Mind have produced a booklet, Understanding anxiety and panic attacks. This booklet is aimed at anyone who experiences anxiety. It looks into the causes of anxiety, its effects and what to do to reduce it to a manageable  level. It also provides some information about severe anxiety, including panic attacks and panic disorder. Friends and relatives of people who experience anxiety may also find it useful.

Training opportunities

The Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC), in partnership with the Anna Freud Learning Network, has developed its first ever online eLearning module.

‘Measuring mental wellbeing to improve the lives of children and young people’

This eLearning aims to increase the awareness, understanding and confidence of non-specialist and school staff who support the wellbeing and mental health of children or young people to access the benefits associated with measuring mental wellbeing. This free interactive short course aims to demystify and simplify the whole process of using outcomes and feedback measures to monitor mental wellbeing


Google Book Search


Online Courses

Manufacturing Happiness - Free Online Video - Paul Dolan, London School of Economics

Mindful Meditations - Free Online & iTunes Audio - Diana Winston, UCLA

Moralities of Everyday Life - Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - Yale

Nine Myths About Schizophrenia - Web Video - Richard Bentall, University of Liverpool

Personality and Its Transformations (2017) - Free Online Video - Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto

Positive Psychology: Martin E. P. Seligman’s Visionary Science - Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - University of Pennsylvania

Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills - Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - University of Pennsylvania

Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health - Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - The University of Sydney

Positive Psychology - Free Online Video - Tal Ben-Shahar, Harvard University

The Science of Well-Being - Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) - Laurie Santo, Yale

The World of Abnormal Psychology - Free Online Video - Philip Zimbardo, Stanford