When we think about health and well-being, we often think about eating healthy and getting exercise. These are important aspects of a healthy, well life. But, we know it is much more than that. It’s about stress. It’s about being able to participate in everyday activities without pain. It’s about having someone to call when you’re in a bind. It’s about having enough money to meet your daily needs. It’s about feeling like you belong and that you have power to influence decisions in your community. Wello’s Resident Health and Well-Being survey is an opportunity to measure and take collective action on the things that impact our ability to achieve our best selves and live our best, most well lives.
This month, we are releasing the full results of our 2021 Wello Resident Health and Well-Being survey. The results provide us with a snapshot on how people in Brown County, Wisconsin feel and experience all the things that impact their health and well-being including their physical health, mental health, social connections and the environments they live, work, learn, pray and play in. This 360 degree view of health and well-being is important, especially as we think about the direct impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has on our ability to achieve high levels of health and well-being.
So, what does that data show us? People who reported having a good or very good quality of life decreased from 2019 (92.4% to 77.9%) and people being satisfied or very satisfied with their health also decreased from 2019 (72.6% to 57.9%). There were also decreases in the overall scores for physical health, mental health, and environments (which includes things like financial resources, freedom, safety, security, access to services, transportation, etc). The area of social connection increased slightly from 2019. The survey continued to show differences in how health and well-being is experienced based on race, ethnicity, level of formal education, and household income.
The Wello Resident Health and Well-Being survey also asked questions related to belonging, inclusion, and power. From 2019 to 2021, less people said they saw themselves as a member of the Greater Green Bay (Brown County) community (88.6% to 82.9%). There were 36.6% of people who felt they could influence decisions affecting the community and 28.7% who felt the culture of our community was accepting of people with different ideas. Feelings of inclusion, belonging, and power are important indicators to consider when building a vibrant community that works for everyone.
Wello takes a three-pronged approach to measuring resident health and well-being. It includes the bi-annual survey, a panel study that follows people over time, and continuous opportunities for direct community feedback. The panel study, which began pre-pandemic and continued through the pandemic, provided additional insights for our community. One, it also showed an overall decline in mental health with reported nervousness, depression, poor sleep, and isolation increasing. These increases were experienced to a greater extent by women. Two, hope and optimism about the future also decreased. These decreases were more pronounced, again, in women. Finally, there was a positive trend that emerged with panel members reporting they took a walk every day to almost every day. This was an increase from pre-pandemic levels. This panel study is an unique opportunity to identify trends over-time and deepen our understanding of health and well-being opportunities for our community.
Despite the myriad challenges, the pandemic also created an environment that supported experimentation, innovation, and collaboration. In Greater Green Bay, our formal and informal network of well-being partners came together to rally around a shared vision of community conditions that are fair and just, leading to high levels of well-being for all. We have learned that there will not be a single “grand solution” to the complex, systemic issues that cause health inequities. And, even if a grand solution existed, it would be doomed to fail in the absence of space for healing, relationship building, and trust between community members. Wello believes in a co-creation philosophy to forge solutions from the bottom up, through a process of trial and error, with constant input from all involved - especially those most impacted. In this way, we can build a proactive culture of health.
You measure what matters. The health and well-being of every resident of Brown County matters. Wello is committed to continuing this work so members of our community can be the authors of what matters most to them.
Check out this data and more on our website at www.wello.org/measure when the full report will be released Monday, October 10th in both English and Spanish. And, gear up for the next opportunity to provide your voice for the Wello Resident Health and Well-Being survey in July of 2023.
This story ran as our October Green Bay Press-Gazette column.