It’s More than Mental Health: How Brands Can Support the Evolution of Wellness

Awareness is up, but there is still more action to take when it comes to supporting the well-being of consumers

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We may be out of quarantine, but we aren’t out of the dark quite yet.

Covid-19 took a massive toll on mental health with over 40% of U.S. adults presenting symptoms of anxiety and depression. That number hasn’t fallen much—according to the CDC, 30% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder in May 2021, and that doesn’t even consider a large percentage of youth also affected.

This surge, however, is bringing greater awareness.

In recent months, a growing list of celebrities have opened up about mental health—normalizing issues ranging from panic attacks to personality disorders that so many have faced in silence. Brands like Calm and MadHappy are raising awareness and showing record support.

While the conversation around mental health has moved forward significantly, other aspects of health and wellness are left in the dark, yet to be embraced by brands.

In 2010, Gallup identified five essential elements of well-being that are recognized globally: career, social, financial, physical and community— noting that only 7% of people are thriving in all five areas.

Other aspects of health and wellness are left in the dark, yet to be embraced by brands.

Over the last decade, both the actual definition and the overall acceptance of wellness has proliferated greatly, fueled by social media and societal values of open-mindedness. From meditation on Netflix to oat milk at Starbucks to whatever Gweneth is trying next on Goop, fringe wellness trends are now accepted by the masses.

And the expansion of wellness isn’t showing signs of slowing. Over the next few years, the growing curiosity around psychedelic medicine is bound to open new doors for the collective consciousness. What parts of the human experience do we not yet understand, but will soon be revealed?

With this new understanding comes new expectations. All companies will be held accountable for contributing to the well-being of the people they serve—whether they are inherently wellness-related or not. In other words, brands that don’t step up now risk becoming irrelevant in the near future.

As Mintel stated in their 2021 Global Consumer Trends report, “An awareness of well-being is at the forefront of consumers’ minds, but a playbook doesn’t exist. Brands have a responsibility and an opportunity to set new rules.”

Institutions like Northwestern now recognize eight dimensions of well-being: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual, vocational and financial. While these are not inclusive of all the aspects of well-being, they provide a good jumping-off point for brands as they seek to provide value in the ever-expanding world of wellness. Brands should ask themselves:

  • Which of the eight dimensions of well-being does our product or brand impact presently?
  • What are the pain points people are experiencing within those dimensions?
  • How might we innovate our product to support these dimensions of well-being?
  • How can we increase well-being at each stage of our consumer journey?
  • How might we support emerging definitions of well-being, such as digital wellness, spacial wellness or energetic wellness?

Like the human body, well-being is an interconnected system that can’t be treated in isolation. We need to look beyond physical or mental health to impact the bigger picture of well-being.

Brands can shepherd people through the next evolution of wellness, as it expands to capture all aspects of mind, body and being. Together, we can move these conversations forward and champion a future in which we all live well.