New survey of Brown County residents says most people are not "fine"

(WBAY)
Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 4:41 PM CST
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A first-of-its-kind project is underway to test the well-being of people in our area.

The healthier the people, the more the community thrives.

But it's about a lot more than physical health, and a new survey shows more focus is needed on total well-being.

You probably hear it at least once a day: "How are you?"

If your answer is "Fine," you're like most people.

But really, are you fine?

A survey of people in Brown County found most are not.

"Over 90 percent of people said 'good.' But when we actually drilled down, what we found was only 1 in 5 five individuals in our community would be qualified as having 'good' well-being, and that's a benchmark set by the World Health Organization," says WELLO executive director Natalie Bomstad.

Funded by grants, the health and well-being non-profit WELLO launched a survey last summer asking nearly 1,400 people across Brown County about their physical and mental health and social relationships.

to read the Community Health and Well-being Report (PDF format)

"At a community level, when we have really purpose-driven citizens who are feeling well, that means economically we're going to do better as well," says Bomstad.

But the survey uncovered the opposite is happening.

One-third of people reported they

often

have depression, anxiety or feel blue.

Lower yet were scores related to "social relationships," including feelings of isolation and stress.

How long you've lived in the area didn't seem to matter, but education, race and income did.

"We find here, as well as in other research, you really need the face-to-face, in-person interaction," says Bomstad.

She agrees our smartphones and other electronic devices could be another reason people noted such high levels of feeling disconnected with people.

The survey produced areas of concern on issues we've reported on extensively, like affordable housing, homelessness, accessibility to mental health services, public safety, and the desire for more bike and walking paths.

for additional results from Wello's survey

That's all set to be addressed in phase two, which Bomstad says will include creating projects, programs and panels of people thinking of ways to make change.

As for specifics, she says those will be unveiled in the coming months.

Some changes will be big and others will be more subtle.

Either way, the more connected we are, she says, the more people want to live, work and invest in the community.

Bomstad says that's good news for employers looking to hire and retain good employees.

"We really see this as a foundational building block to a lot of things," adds Bomstad.

The Wello Community Health and Well-Being Survey is supported in part by a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, which includes the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation and donors of the Community Foundation.

The survey was conducted July 13 through August 31, 2019, administered by Wello, in partnership with the Consortium of Applied Research at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert College.