25 June 2013

New report tackles the eternal pursuit of Happiness in Brighton & Hove

‘Happiness’ is the theme explored in the new annual report of the Director of Public Health published this week.
The report makes the case for Happiness in Brighton & Hove and reveals some surprising statistics about who is the happiest and how we can get happier. It focuses on those aspects that affect people’s happiness and self-satisfaction and their relationship with physical and mental health.
There is a strong case for measuring and seeking to improve happiness and wellbeing, the report says, supporting the view that negative emotions can harm health and affect the choices that people make such as smoking, diet, alcohol and sexual behaviour.
Topics tackled include the decline of opiates and the rise of club drugs, ways to improve mental health as well as falling alcohol use in young people (aged 11-14 years). Other stories focus on how people in early retirement are taking advantage of city schemes such as Heathwalks to stay fit and the way happiness varies by gender, race and religion.
The report shows that while most people living in Brighton & Hove are happy and satisfied with their life, the city also has significant mental health needs.
The ‘One Planet Living’ framework, a set of ten principles to help the council’s work in addressing environmental, social and economic sustainability, cites ‘Health and Happiness’ as one of its main tenets.
While the overwhelming majority of young people are happy, the report found levels vary in minority ethnic groups and the city has seen an 80% increase in BME residents and a 12% fall in the number of older residents.
Key statistics also include the number of drug related deaths falling from 67 deaths in 2000 to 20 in 2011 and a rise from 15% to 24% over a decade in the proportion of adults taking the recommended weekly levels of exercise.
Smoking rates continue to fall in adults and children with people who have never smoked being happiest.
Tom Scanlon, Brighton & Hove City Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Does happiness make us healthier, bring more life satisfaction? Who amongst us in Brighton & Hove is happiest and why? We do have lots of questions but only some of the answers. We all want to be happy, so I have no doubt that we have selected a subject matter for this annual report that will interest many readers.”

Read the full report here