Are you in the driver’s seat in your own life? In a healthy Espoo, everyone has this opportunity. The focus of the Healthy Espoo programme is mental well-being.
Finns have proven to be the happiest nation in the world. And Espoo is home to the healthiest people in Finland, at least when comparing large cities.
“Especially in international comparison, the starting point is at a very high level.”
Juha Metso, Head of Social and Health Services in Espoo, likes to talk about health, well-being and happiness as things that are possible even in dreary everyday life.
“Well-being is not something extraordinary, but just normal daily life. The most important thing is that we learn to look at the landscape of everyday life with new eyes.” It has been known for a long time that health, well-being and happiness are associated with lifestyle: smoking, nutrition, exercise, substance
abuse and, in general, things about which information is readily available. But new research suggests that close relationships, affection and love are even more important than lifestyle.
“Who can influence my lifestyle and relationships the most? I myself, of course. Well-being starts from taking the driver’s seat in your own life. And that is why a new kind of attitude is needed in addition to traditional health education and instruction”, Metso says.
Five ways to live better and longer
Espoo wants to be the most sustainable city in Europe economically, ecologically, socially and culturally.
“Social and cultural sustainability are based on health, well-being and happiness”, says the Head of Social and Health Services.
The aim is to also strengthen the opportunities of Espoo residents to participate and belong to a community.
“We try to help people to take responsibility of promoting their own health”, Programme Manager Riikka Puusniekka says.
How can you climb on the driver’s seat of your own life, then? There are five simple ways to do this, as described in the adjacent graphic.
“When you make these things part of your daily life, you can add seven and a half good extra years to your life.”
This is research-based information. First of all, the aim is to raise the awareness of Espoo residents of the many opportunities that Espoo has. A related campaign called “Onni löytyy arjen harmaudesta” (Happiness is found in everyday life) has just started.
“We want to emphasise the significance of one’s own thinking. The best moment of the day can be hidden in the drabness of daily life and only be discovered when you look at things from different perspectives”, Puusniekka says.
“Therefore, you should do things that feel good and put you in a pleasant mood. They do not have to be major things. Even everyday actions can change your life in a positive direction.”
The campaign was preceded by a survey in which Espoo residents were able to describe where they find joy in everyday life and how the city could promote happiness.
“We received hundreds of replies”, Puusniekka says happily.
The sources of joy were often mundane for people of all ages:
“Today, my 17-year-old daughter sat and talked with me when I came home from work at 8 p.m.” (working age). And “Many things bring joy every day, for example, other people’s dogs that I can pet when I am on a walk” (senior).
Young people often mentioned the joy of helping others: “Today, I had the opportunity to help a man who did not have money for a bus ticket. The feeling of being able to help and the man’s friendliness made the day better and brought variety to everyday life.”
Next, the intention is to challenge the city’s operators and partners to reflect on how we can together promote the mental well-being of Espoo residents now and in the future.
“Promoting well-being and health will remain key tasks of the city also going forward even if the social welfare and health care reform transfers the associated services under regional responsibility”, Puusniekka says.
Well-being is promoted in co-operation
The well-being of Espoo residents and its progress are monitored annually. Plans for the well-being of children and young people as well as the elderly have already been made in Espoo before, and the first wellbeing plan for working-age people has now also been completed.
“The plans help manage the work done for well-being and better connect it to the planning of the city’s finances and operations”, Puusniekka says.
A package for the independent health promotion of municipal residents will be created on the city’s website with, for example, online applications for quitting smoking and digital possibilities for nutritional guidance. it is also important integrate partners, such as organisations, more closely.
“Organisations accumulate a lot of information that would benefit the city. We want to make better use of this information and share experiences on what kinds of things are the best help in making Espoo residents feel better.”
Source: Espoo Magazine 2/2018