"Are you well?" What does well-being mean?
By Tim Evans - 12 October 2018
"Are you well?" - one of the most commonly used questions in our culture.
Of course, part of our culture is also our tendency to respond, "Yes, I'm fine thank you," whatever we might be feeling.
The explosion in the statistics about young people suffering from mental health issues, from anxiety to depression to eating disorders to suicide, says to me that the collective answer as to whether we are well is actually a resounding 'NO'. In a time and a society where young people are more technologically socially connected than ever before, and where they seemingly have a myriad of information and choices available to them, many are not well at all. We are facing a well-being crisis.
As I described in my last blog, well-being is one of 3 themes that Worth Unlimited understands as being essential for shalom hope. To us, a sense of well-being is that people have what they need to live a wholesome human life characterised by a strong sense of personal fulfilment, security and dignity. It also means they have the practical means to live that life: clothes to wear; a safe and caring home to live in; the ability to provide for yourself and others; enough food to eat. It's why our work includes everything from dealing with holiday hunger, running cooking groups, supporting families, therapeutic horticulture and life skills programmes, all the way to growing social enterprise providing skills and opportunities. It's why we mentor young people in school and college, so that they have the support they need in order to make use of their education and go on to forge the kind of life they want as adults.
Although we are a youth work organisation, at the heart of much of our work is inter-generational community building. There is a simple reason for this: young people need to grow up in communities where people will ask them if you are well and where they can answer honestly, openly and vulnerably; they need to know that others will care for them, be there for them and listen to them. It's why our young women's social enterprise is called Listen Threads, providing physical garments that clothe people with a brand that says, "Make sure you really listen to us as well as buying from us".
This is real emotional and practical hope, manifest in the reality of people's lives. If we, as a society, are to deal with the epidemic of mental health issues amongst young people, we need to ask ourselves some tough questions about what kind of world they are growing up in. But we also need to simply get on with being people who listen, who get alongside, who build confidence and self-esteem, who build community, who impart skills and uncover hidden treasure. These are things we can never do enough or too much.
Will you join us? Help fund what we do by becoming a regular donor. Become an ambassador and spread the word. Partner with us to grow the impact. This kind of emotional and practical hope can only be made real if we do it together - but by doing it together, we will change lives.