Scotland can lead the way on happiness


Jo Swinson sees research on well-being having an impact on public policy in Scotland and hopes the political will to back ‘happiness’ policies will follow.

As NHS Scotland introduces new ‘positive mental well-being indicators’ to measure the country’s happiness, Jo Swinson has undertaken a fact-finding mission to see how Scotland is leading the rest of the UK in promoting happiness and well-being.

In 2006, the previous Scottish Executive set up a National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Well-Being, which was initially tasked with establishing a means of measuring Scotland’s mental health and well-being. Jo met with NHS Scotland representatives to find out about the early impact that the scheme has had.

Commenting after the meeting, she said:

“Scotland is leading the way by introducing measurements of the nation’s well-being. Only once we measure happiness in a regular and systematic way can we identify the key policies that we need to pursue to promote it.

“Hopefully these pioneering indicators will push well-being and happiness up the political agenda. Successive governments have sought to prize economic growth above all else, but increased gross domestic product has not translated into increases in people’s happiness. The government should be seeking ways to introduce policies that make us happier, not just economically better-off.”

During her fact-finding mission, Jo also visited the Centre for Confidence and Well-being on Union St in Glasgow, to learn more about the groundbreaking research being carried out around happiness in public policy. Commenting, she said:

“The Centre for Confidence and Well-being is an interesting example of an institution carrying out effective research that could, with enough willpower from politicians, have a major positive impact on public policy.”

Jo will host an event on happiness at the forthcoming Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference. Happiness: a new political challenge will take place on Monday 15th September at the conference in Bournemouth.


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