19 June 2014

‘Happiness’ report into Brighton & Hove’s health wins national award

A ground-breaking report into Brighton & Hove’s health tackling controversial issues such as the harm caused by alcohol, self-harm as well as the role of happiness has won a prestigious national award.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s 2012/13 annual report entitled ‘Happiness – the eternal pursuit' has won the Director of Public Health Annual Report Competition 2013 voted for by the Association of Directors of Public Health.  The report’s entire print run has been snapped up.

‘Happiness – the eternal pursuit’ makes the case for happiness in the city and reveals some surprising statistics about who is the happiest and how we can get happier.

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 lively, magazine-styled report was compiled by Brighton & Hove City Council’s director of Public Health Tom Scanlon and his team with input from different services in and outside of the council. Design work was carried out by the council’s in-house graphic design team.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s director of public health Tom Scanlon said:

“This is great news.  We decided to make ‘Happiness’ the theme of last year’s report as there is increasing evidence linking happiness and mental wellbeing to good health. 

“Happiness is associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and depression as well as positive health behaviours, which in turn improve health.  It may seem a little circular but that is the nature of happiness – it is self-fulfilling.

“Furthermore, we know that there are things you can do to improve happiness levels, and in doing so, you will improve health.  The actions we take to improve happiness have very little to do with traditional health services but are more about engagement in the community, in the arts and culture, improved working environments and so on.

“The report really engaged people around the city including business leaders and large local organisations – happiness is also linked to better productivity. The police and the local arts and culture partnership have now appointed ‘happiness champions’ in their organisations and we are looking to appoint more. 

“I am very keen that this debate continues.  It isn’t frivolous; it is important to health and at a time of public spending pressures the solutions often come at a very low – or no cost.

“The lively, magazine-styled feel of the report with graphics and images to help illustrate key issues in a very accessible way, and I am afraid that due to its popularity we have no more paper copies available, but the report is available on line.  I want to thank all the contributors to the report from across the city as well as our excellent graphic design team for a job very well done.”

This year's report will be published in July.

Happiness – the eternal pursuit can be downloaded here