Health and wellness

The desire for healthier lifestyles has been increasingly popular over the last few decades. Millennials and Gen Z are the largest generations and more focused on their mental and physical health than the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. But are they physically and mentally healthier? And what does this mean for future wellness trends?

Mental and physical health outcomes not are what you’d expect

GlobeScan’s annual study into Healthy and Sustainable Living surveyed 27,000 people across 27 markets. It found that those interested in improving health correlated to age. Baby Boomers and Gen X felt less shame and expressed less desire for healthier living than millennials and Gen Z.

Interestingly, this doesn’t match health outcomes. Compared to other generations, millennials are the least healthy, followed by Gen Z. A study by Blue Cross Shield found that unless action is taken, mortality rates for millennials may rise by over 40% compared to Gen X at the same age.

Obesity and issues such as diabetes are on the rise. According to the WHO, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and over 340 million children and between 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.

Mental health is similarly reaching crisis levels. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year-olds. Depression rates among millennials rose 31% from 2014 to 2017.

According to a report on Gen Z by APA, the problem is getting worse. For example, 27% of Gen Z report their mental health as fair or poor compared to 15% of millennials. Similarly, they are much more likely to have received treatment or some form of therapy from a mental health professional at 37% compared to Baby Boomers at 22%.

Stress is experienced by nine in ten Gen Z adults, with 58% saying it led to feelings of depression and sadness. A study in 2017 noted around 792 million people living with a mental health disorder globally. In 2021, that figure is almost a billion.

The focus on health and wellness has intensified since COVID-19

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to reassess their lifestyles. The health and wellness trend has been ongoing, but clearly, traditional ways of doing things aren’t working. However, new developments in physical and mental health are making a difference.

Younger people are now exercising more. A recent survey by Les Mills found 87% of Gen Z exercised three or more times a week. UNiDAYS found 43% of respondents now work out at home, with 65% using fitness apps and 28% using wearable technology such as Fitbits. Last year saw a rise of 218.3% in at-home fitness equipment and 134.7% in people preferring online fitness over other methods.

Mental health is more of a problem, with 72% of Gen Z naming it their primary health and wellness concern. People from all generations are seeking a variety of new ways to deal with mental issues. A study by the University of Cambridge found a 176% increase in searches for apps to help with depression.

Online therapy is helping millions who would otherwise not have had access to help. For example, BetterHealth offers e-counseling to over 5000 Americans a day. Apps like Mood Kit, developed by clinical psychologists, are also helping.

Pharmaceuticals face a similar problem in that traditional products don’t work for everyone, and many find it hard to get help. However, new advances are making a difference.

A great example of this is the biotech company Cybin. Doug Drysdale, Cybin’s CEO, said, “The rise in people with depression and anxiety has been well-known for decades now. We founded Cybin in 2018 after seeing close friends and loved ones with mental health issues struggle to get the help they needed.

“Our mission is to help others. We knew that some problems are more resistant to traditional products, but the biotech field has recently begun a revolution in new treatments. So, we set out to develop a new range of effective pharmaceuticals.

Unlike digital health platforms and apps, biotech takes a lot more time and funding. Drysdale says, “We had gathered an incredible team of mental health experts and scientists and were making fantastic progress. There was already a lot of interest in our new products.

“Then the pandemic arrived in 2020, and it seemed like global attention shifted to our sector. Funding suddenly increased, and we have raised over C$120 million to date. At the end of 2020, Cybin was listed on the stock market.

“The additional financing has fueled our research and development. We have completed over 50 pre-clinical molecule studies and ten patent applications. Cybin is now in a position to help a lot of people who may not otherwise have received help.”

The health and wellness trend has gathered pace for decades, particularly among younger generations. However, outcomes continued to decline as more traditional methods saw decreasing effectiveness.

Attitudes toward improving mental and physical health, which were already changing, were turbo-charged by the pandemic. This shift, combined with new developments in digital technology and fields such as biotech, have started to make a difference. After decades of decline, there are increasing reasons to be hopeful about the future.