Lifting the stress of uncertainty

4 August 2016

The word wellbeing is being put to a lot of uses at the moment. At an outdoor event I attended last month there was a "wellbeing world". This included such well-proven treatments as being hung upside down and lying down on a trolley and being pushed along on rails. Obviously there were ear candles (how is putting wax into your ear a good idea?)

Then there is wellbeing as it is seen by local authorities. This is rather less for the worried well and more about trying to find solutions for those who are struggling on a day-to-day basis. The climate of uncertainty started for many people around 2010, not immediately after the vote to leave the EU. Low, uncertain wage levels, insufficient sources of decent housing, cuts in benefits have all played a part in making people feel unwell. Well-grounded fear, experienced day after day, week after week, has a way of doing that.

The challenge for wellbeing services is to find ways that people can manage the stress of this uncertainty in a way that does not impinge on every other area of their lives. This is a tall order. Low level but persistent mental health problems can be alleviated with CBT and other thought shifting therapies. Unhealthy consumption habits can be countered by hefty nudges and well-tested means. The key, though, is to find a set of assertive interventions that shift people with major, currently insoluble problems, toward solution based thinking.


It is going to take some doing to devise this service.... but if it's possible to get people to believe that putting wax in their ears is good for them then it can be done.