'How can we work together to create the future that is possible,
rather than the one that is predictable?'
Flourish Project, 2018
rather than the one that is predictable?'
Flourish Project, 2018
Despite the fact that the world is getting wealthier, it does not seem to be getting any happier. In fact lots of statistics suggest that people are living increasingly pressurised, distracted, time-poor and lonely lives - and that this is now impacting on the health and wellbeing of families and children. The model offers a away for people to better understand what underpins their own wellbeing and that of their families. It also helps to connect up the dots between what people really need and the resources that are available to them. Most importantly of all, it shows just how vital it is to protect the youngest children from adverse childhood experiences that may significantly impact their later ability to flourish.
The Flourish Model and the History of
Global Wellbeing Indicators pdf
Across the world people have been exploring ways in which we can better measure development and progress in terms of human wellbeing. A number of challenges have arisen in the approaches undertaken by different countries and cultures, but there has been clear agreement that measures of GDP alone are not sufficient and that we need to develop a more coherent global approach. The Flourish Model suggests a new ‘Ecology of Wellbeing’ that puts lives of meaning, purpose and value back at the core and the natural, healthy development of young children as fundamental to the process.
The global picture
Stressed and unhappy children become stressed and unhappy adults. Across the world there is general expert consensus that it is somewhere between economically worthwhile and globally imperative to invest more heavily, as a proportion of both local and national spend, in the very earliest months and years of life.
The OECD compares measures of child well-being in six dimensions: material well-being, housing and environment, education, health and safety, risk behaviours and quality of school life. According to it “no OECD country performs well on all fronts”. (OECD, 2009).
Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s. Neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading cause of disability in young people in all regions, (WHO, 2018)
An estimated 43 percent—249 million—of children under five in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at an elevated risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting, (The Lancet Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale, 2016)
Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Most of the world’s population now live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. (WHO, 2018)
Finland was the top raking country in the 2018 World Happiness Report, with the top ten positions held by the same countries as in the last two years, although with some swapping of places. Four different countries have held top spot in the four most recent reports- Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland. All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.
By the time the average child is eighteen years old, they will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders
(Facts and Figures About Our TV Habit. TV Turnoff Network).
What’s the current state of child wellbeing in the UK?
In August 2018 the NHS announced that the number of girls under the age of 18 being treated in hospital in England
after self-harming had nearly doubled compared with 20 years ago.
In its 2018 Report the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, found that the happiness and confidence young people feel in their emotional health have dropped to the lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.
In its first wellbeing study involving 540,000 15-year-olds across 72 countries, the UK ranked 38th out of the 48 countries that took part in the happiness study. Pupils in the UK were among the most likely to be bullied and spent the most time on the internet. They were also more anxious about testing than many of their international peers. (OECD, 2017).
One in four girls in the UK currently have depression by the time they are 14
(NCB and University of Liverpool, 2017)
The UK has the highest rate of child obesity in Western Europe, which is estimated to cost the NHS about £4.2bn a year (Public Health England, 2009). One in three is now clinically obese (Young Minds, 2017).
Less than 1 in 10 children regularly play in wild spaces now, compared to
5 out of 10 a generation ago (Natural Childhood Report, 2011).
In the UK the “roaming range” (the area within which children are permitted to play unsupervised) has shrunk by more than 90% in 40 years. Only 21% of children today play out in their streets and local neighbourhoods, compared to 71% of adults who were able to do so as children (Playday Poll, 2007). The recent Persil ‘Dirt is Good’ Campaign notes that British children “spend less time outdoors than prisoners”.
Play England’s 2007 research found that 51 per cent of children have been told by adults to stop playing in the streets or area near their home.
British children spend disproportionately large amounts of time in front of screens,
compared to their counterparts in other Western European countries. ‘Higher levels of TV viewing are having a negative effect on children’s well-being, including lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.’ (Children’s Society, 2013).
One in ten children in the UK has a diagnosed mental health disorder (Young Minds, 2017)
One in twelve adolescents deliberately self-harms (Young Minds, 2017).
33% of children in the UK currently live in poverty (UK Poverty Measure 2018). The IFS has predicted the number of children living in poverty will soar to a record 5.2 million over the next five years as government welfare cuts bite, more than reversing all the progress made over the past 20 years.
Approximately 25% of children live in a one-parent family, and 47% of children living in one-parent families currently experience relative poverty (Gingerbread, 2017).
Nearly 80,000 children and young people currently suffer from severe depression, including 8,000 children aged under 10 years old (Young Minds, 2017)
Admissions for psychiatric conditions, eating disorders and self-harm among young people
are soaring (Sunday Times Mental Health Campaign, 2017.