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The Wellbeing research group is devoted to understanding the causes of wellbeing and its influence on individuals and communities. One key focus is on improving mental health.

CEP research on wellbeing began in 2003 when Richard Layard gave his public lectures on Happiness: Has social science a clue? His book Happiness then followed which explored the paradox that as societies get richer, they often do not become happier. His 2020 book Can We Be Happier? sets out the evidence for why and how we can create a happier society.

Research from the programme has looked into what is important for wellbeing and the influence on wellbeing of working life, education and physical and mental health, by studying wellbeing over the course of people's lives. CEP wellbeing researchers regularly contribute to the World Happiness Reports and aim to make personal happiness and wellbeing a goal of public policy.

The research provided evidence of the overwhelming importance of good mental health to individuals and society. CEP's Mental Health Policy Group published two reports (see The Depression Report: A New Deal for Depression and Anxiety Disorders and How Mental Illness Loses out in the NHS) which helped bring about the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. In its first four years, more than 1 million people had used the new services and recovery rates were in excess of 45 per cent.

The programme also produced a major analysis of all the main factors affecting people's wellbeing over their lives in The Origins of Happiness. This was aimed at policy-makers to make it easier for them to pursue wellbeing as a policy goal.

Wellbeing publications

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