How Do We Get Out of This? What Are We Doing Wrong?

West Virginia ranked last among states in the seventh annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released in February—for the sixth time in a row.

Written by Pam Kasey

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a corrected version of a graphic that ran in the May/June 2015 issue of West Virginia Focus.

It’s tempting to dismiss the Well-Being Index as meaningless. It’s not. The poll questions are grounded in peer-reviewed research, and the results are based on hundreds of thousands of phone interviews conducted nationwide through-out the year, with samples matched to national demographics for gender, age, race, ethnicity, and location, among other characteristics. The Gallup-Healthways partnership calls the Well-Being Index “the most proven, mature, and comprehensive measure of well-being in the world.”

Based on recent research, the index was updated in 2014 to a new set of five measures.

Box 1

Measuring well-being, they say, is vital to improving it. So, knowing this—how do we improve it?



People get mad about these polls, and they can be disheartening, but the reality of it, is that we have to face these problems head-on before any changes can be made. Sure, there are great things about West Virginia, but you HAVE to acknowledge the bad before you can begin to enact any real change.

West Virginia’s education system is a mess. The economy is not diversified enough to bring any real job or industry growth. Aging population as young people flee the state for better opportunities. The Capitol hands over the state to large extraction and chemical industries, and railroads small business and new industry. Rampant drug abuse and overdoses. An increasingly impoverished population. Crumbling infrastructure.

On the other hand we have some great people here, beautiful natural resources, a unique history and culture, and fairly decent cost of living (if you have a decent job).

PR and Marketing is not going to save West Virginia – real change and action from within will save it. But only if the people act.

Leave a Reply