Mental fitness: the new kid on the fitness block and why more Indians want to participate
Before 2019, whenever Nilanjana, 30, had questions about health, she would try to find the answer on Google. Now we all know how it goes, don’t we? For a moment you feel nauseous, probably because you ate something that was wrong with your system or were stressed out, but thanks to this internet research you are suddenly dealing with a fatal disease.
This is obviously far from the truth, but tell our worried selves. Luckily for Nilanjana, 2019 brought some semblance of calm to her life.
A co-worker introduced her to one of those platforms that connect you to doctors for virtual consultations. Today, instead of worrying if his headache that lasts for a few days is a sign of a brain tumor, the self-diagnosed hypochondriac just talks to an expert.
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And the pandemic has also brought to the fore the importance of mental wellness and mindfulness. Charged with staying indoors with minimal human connection, in person, potential uncertainty as to what the future holds for us now, and the insidious sense of hopelessness wondering if we will ever come out of this “masked” reality. many of us start to deal with chronic problems. stress and anxiety.
This is what ushered in the massive digital wellness boom, especially the digital mindfulness space.
According to a 2019 study by the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry is worth $ 4.5 trillion, and the mindfulness industry is rapidly gaining ground to become a big piece of the pie.
According to 2018 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, meditation and mindfulness have been the fastest growing health trends in America, with nearly 40% of people reporting weekly meditation and breathing sessions.
According to Google, the number of searches for yoga and meditation apps has also increased by 65% in one year; over 52 million users downloaded the 10 best meditation apps in 2019.
The US meditation industry is now worth $ 1 billion, according to an IBIS World report released earlier this year. According to another 2021 report from Grandview Research, the global alternative healthcare industry including meditation, acupuncture, breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, and chiropractic services will be worth $ 296.3 billion. dollars by 2027. The mental health apps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2021 to 2027 to reach $ 3.3 billion by 2027.
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Closer to home in India, the need for experts and services that can help address mental health challenges is rapidly gaining ground, further accelerated by the pandemic.
According to the latest WHO data, 7.5% of the Indian population suffered from mental health disorders in 2020; of that number, 56 million suffered from depression and 38 million more from anxiety disorders.
To make matters worse, there are only 30 psychiatrists for every 10 million people. Not to mention the stigma associated with mental health issues and the high cost of therapy that makes it unaffordable for much of the population.
It’s not that the country and the world weren’t struggling with mental health issues before the pandemic, 2020 has only exacerbated the problems. He multiplied many of them and brought to light some that weren’t on the radar until now.
To reiterate the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our usual lives – uncertainty about health, jobs, our future, how often unfortunate news would come, the precariousness of life, everything weighed on our collective mental health .
While for people who lived alone the lack of human contact was difficult, for families, dealing with the same people every moment came with its own set of challenges, not to mention the parents who were suddenly tasked with the task. home schooling of their children.
Add to that the pressure of having to adapt and adapt to working from home. We were suddenly faced with a lot of what we had never dealt with before.
This is precisely where digital platforms promoting mindfulness and mental well-being came in and offered solace, and then grew exponentially. The biggest USP of going digital is convenience – I can see a therapist from the comfort of my home, I can participate in virtual exercise / yoga classes if my gym is closed, I can follow along my sleep, women can follow their period, there is an app for most things today.
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The space is so dynamic now that the top 10 English mental wellness apps (especially those for meditation) saw 2 million more downloads in April 2020 compared to January, according to data from Sensor Tower.
India is not far in this global trend either.
The second wave of the pandemic saw Indians download more fitness and meditation apps to stay healthy. App downloads have increased by around 20% in the first months of 2021, with some apps seeing an increase of up to 50% since mid-February.
It’s no surprise that everyone wants a slice of the digital mindfulness pie. There are apps where big celebrities put you to sleep, apps that have done some of the most interesting integrations with other brands to improve user engagement with the product, and everyone is looking for hyper-personalization in order to that the end consumer enjoys the best experience when he is browsing the platform.
In fact, there is a meditation app in the US where music producers and in-house DJs create specific binaural beats and beats that improve mood, which helps users relax and be more open to trigger positive emotions.
There’s a popular meme that says, “Modern problems require modern solutions” and the digital mindfulness industry is perfecting the art, one new platform / product / service at a time.
(The author is vice president and general manager of JetSynthesys.)