Mental Wellness Is a $121 Billion Market

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The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has released its latest research report: “Defining the Mental Wellness Economy.”

It's the first study to define mental wellness and clarify its key concepts and pathways, in addition to measuring mental wellness as a global industry, and identifying and benchmarking its key sub-segments.

According to the report, the global mental wellness market is worth $120.8 billion, based on consumer spend in four markets:

  • senses, spaces & sleep
  • brain-boosting nutraceuticals & botanicals
  • self-improvement
  • meditation & mindfulness.

“Stress, loneliness and burnout were exploding pre-pandemic, and a stronger focus on mental wellness has been a cultural mega-shift these last few years: People awakening to the importance of integrative solutions including meditation, sleep and brain health, with businesses rushing in to offer all kinds of solutions. But mental wellness as a concept, and what constitutes it as an industry, has remained incredibly fuzzy,” said Ophelia Yeung, GWI senior research fellow. “Clarifying what it is, and delineating its business segments, is overdue. And while most mental wellness strategies are free–like spending time in nature or with friends–people increasingly seek non-clinical help in coping with everyday mental challenges, and that’s where the mental wellness industry comes in.”

Mental Wellness vs. Mental Health

The GWI defines mental wellness as “an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect and function. It is an active process that helps us to build resilience, grow and flourish.”

The report provides an understanding for the difference between “mental health” and “mental wellness,” in which mental wellness is considered a dynamic process of moving from languishing, to resilience, to flourishing.

Key strategies for mental wellness fall into four pathways:

  • activity & creativity
  • growth & nourishment
  • rest & rejuvenation
  • connection & meaning

The Mental Wellness Industry

The report defines the mental wellness industry: “Encompassing businesses whose primary aim is to help us along the mental wellness pathways of growth and nourishment and rest and rejuvenation.” Within those pathways, it identifies four main sectors

Senses, spaces and sleep spans products, services and design that target the senses and mind-body connection, seeking a positive impact on mood, stress levels and sleep. The segment includes sound (sound therapy, white noise and wellness music); scent (aromatherapy, home fragrances and diffusers); touch (stress gadgets and weighted blankets); and light (human-centric light and light therapy consumer devices). It includes multisensory experiences at wellness travel, spa, fitness and entertainment destinations, plus sensory-based design and architecture. Sleep is the biggest sub-segment, with offerings including smart bedding and sleep accessories; sleep apps, wearables and trackers; and sleep retreats and treatments.

Brain-boosting nutraceuticals & botanicals spans ingestible products with the specific goal of improving mental health and well-being, including natural supplements, herbals and botanicals, and functional foods and beverages aimed at improving brain health, sleep, memory and energy.

Self-improvement covers a range of self-help and personal development practices, including books, media, video, apps and online platforms; gurus and life coaches; classes, workshops and retreats; support groups; cognitive enhancement and brain training products/services; and new, creative organizations, apps and online platforms combatting loneliness and isolation.

Meditation and mindfulness is a smaller but fast-growing market that includes all forms of meditation practice and related mindfulness practices (e.g., breathwork, guided imagery, body scan, relaxation exercises), plus the products and services that support these practices. Key spending categories include classes, teachers, retreats, books and mobile apps (such as Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer), which are a huge driver of consumer adoption and spend. There's a growing market for meditation accessories (e.g., cushions, beads, chimes) and mindfulness products (e.g., journals, coloring books).

“There is urgency to this research: Study after study shows how the human suffering and economic dislocations caused by the pandemic have ravaged our mental wellbeing. We’re excited to release this study because people are desperate for alternative strategies to cope, and we hope it clarifies how important it is to promote mental wellness–and how businesses, governments and individuals can all play different roles in addressing a growing crisis," says Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow.

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