A new survey initiative for Midland residents aims to give an in-depth look into the community by incorporating the science of human well-being.
The PERMAH Well-being Survey for Communities is based on the framework of PERMAH, short for positivity, engagement, relationship, meaning, achievement and health. It’s the model created by Dr. Martin Seligman, which has determined that well-being may be improved by balancing and focusing on these elements.
Inspired by this idea, Dr. Peggy Kern, Dr. Kathryn Wessling, Jaclyn Gaffaney, Kathryn (Kathy) Snyder, Dr. Michelle McQuaid and Louis Alloro teamed up to develop a community well-being index. In 2018, the group distributed the first Community Well-being Index in Midland County where they received 1,300 responses.
The aggregate data collected through the survey shows the state of the community’s well-being and areas where there may be opportunities for improvement. The data can also help to inform decision making in areas that impact the community such as resource allocation and public policy.
“There’s a lot of work that’s been done through the Midland Area Community Foundation, the city and county to see where are gaps and strengths are,” says Kathy Snyder. “We felt that this particular initiative could amplify those efforts in a sense and maybe even provide some additional avenues that we hadn’t previously thought of.”
By day, Snyder works as a high school teacher at H.H. Dow High School and received a master’s degree in applied positive psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. Snyder says one of the areas that was looked at for the study is an individual’s sense of belonging.
“One of the things that came through was that people’s well-being was increased if they felt a sense of belonging somewhere,” Snyder says. “If people don’t feel like they belong, then the well-being isn’t as high.”
The survey follows up on some of the work the group has been doing in Midland, with 40 community leaders going through a six-month program in positive psychology.
As a result, two women who recently participated in the program, Certificate in Creating Wellbeing (CCWB) (www.thewellbeinglab.com/midland) applied for, and received, a grant to work on developing resources and diagnostic tools to identify and help people that identify as lonely in the community.
“The short of it is that there are Midland County residents who are engaged in the learning of well-being science, or applied positive psychology,” co-founder and executive director of CCWB, Louis Alloro, M.Ed., MAPP, says. “We’re building a coalition of champions in the community that can then go ahead and share this information with others. Teaching people what it means to increase the quality of their life by using some tools and strategies to become more resilient and have greater engagement and contribution is one of the ways we can make a positive impact.”
The survey underwent some revisions since the original iteration in 2018. This year’s survey is called the PERMAH Well-being Survey for Communities, a combination of the initial survey with the PERMAH Well-being Survey.
Everyone who takes the survey will get immediate feedback on their personal well-being, but cumulative results will require analysis and be available to the public in a published article and during community sessions.
The survey will be open until Monday, March 30 and is available to residents 18 years of age and older. Participants that complete the survey will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card.
For more information or to take the survey, visit midland.permahsurvey.com.