Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mental Health || The Pandemic Within The Pandemic

Mental Health - Collaborative Post

At this point, having gone through a nail-biting presidential election over in the US and second lockdowns surfacing around the world, this year really has been ‘a lot’ for us all. Understatement of the century, right?

The mental health crisis emerging from 2020 is being dubbed by many as ‘the pandemic within the pandemic’. We’re worried about our finances, our health, we can’t hug our friends and family, we can’t plan ahead and what lies ahead is uncertain. All of this has seriously taken it’s toll this year so far, and with cold days and dark nights looming, looking after our mental wellbeing right now is more important than ever before.

We’re even missing our commutes to work - the thing that many of us once hated. This has lead to the fake commute, with many going for a drive, stroll or cycle before and after work to separate the increasingly blurred lines between our working and personal lives.

Brands are now feeling an increased need to play their part in improving the wellbeing of their communities. Green Room Design explore… 

Social media platforms playing their part

The tech space in particular have put a recent focus on mental wellbeing. Social media usage has rocketed since lockdown 1.0 back in March - let’s face it, there wasn’t much else to do. All this social media consumption is unlikely to be doing our wellbeing much good. It should be alarming enough to us all that many of Silicon Valley’s tech executives have been raising their kids tech-free… That tells us all we need to know about the way technology and social media is designed to make us behave. It’s got the same, sad irony as the old joke about the cigarette brand owner who tells their kids not to smoke.

But last month, mental health enemy no.1, Facebook, announced a new ‘emotional health portal’ to help users of Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook and Messenger to better manage their wellbeing online. This portal is a centralised resource centre on the Facebook app, loaded with tips and information from experts worldwide on how to look after your wellbeing in these current times. I know what you’re thinking - it’s a little fishy that Facebook have launched a feature to prioritise emotional wellbeing, but senior staff still don’t let their own kids use their platforms!

Snapchat are also doing their bit to help. In response to a reported 73% of Snapchatters feeling more stressed than last year, the platform has joined forces with mindfulness app, Headspace, to offer in-app meditations. This is a great resource to wind down after a bad day.

Brands in the offline world

In the offline world, brands are also adapting their product offering to help users reach a more zen-like state. Amazon Halo and Fitbit Sense are the latest tech products to track wearers’ mental health by monitoring mood and analysing emotional states. The Amazon Halo comes with the usual set of fitness tracking features, along with the ability to create 3D scans of your body for body fat, and listen for the emotion in your voice. Fitbit Sense, on the other hand, features in-depth stress sensing with the ability for users to log how they are feeling, skin temperature assessments and sleep tracking. 

Mercedes-Benz have also launched their Energizing Coach package, allowing drivers to select from various wellness set-ups, which adjust in-car music, lighting, fragrance, heat and - of course - offer in-seat massages. Meanwhile, Asics have put humans at the centre of a recent campaign, with the ‘In My Shoes’ audio series, sharing inspirational stories from those who have discovered the benefits of exercise on their mental wellbeing.

When it comes to lifting spirits, Christmas is without a doubt one of the best times of the year - not just for receiving gifts, but for giving them too. In fact, a 2008 Harvard study proved that giving someone else a gift is better for lifting our own mood than buying something for ourselves is. On that note, it’s unlikely that shopping restrictions will stop consumers gifting as per usual this year.