Several external forces are causing consumers to be worried about their mental health, causing them to seek emotional recharging The lack of accessibility to more traditional mental health services has made consumers more open to alternatives they might find easier to integrate into their routines and budgets. Consumers have turned to TikTok and digital escapism to fill the gap that health centers aren’t.
With the world standing at a crossroads of the climate crisis, with unknown consequences of global warming, sustainability worries are changing consumer behavior. Being constantly around digital media and due to the pandemic, the number of consumers struggling with depression, anxiety, loneliness and addiction is at its highest. The World Health Organization has predicted that by 2030, the most considerable health risk on earth will be depression. They have also announced that mental health will be the top priority for the next decade.
According to a 2022 Mckinesey Study reveal that one in four Gen Z respondents reported feeling more emotionally distressed (25 percent), almost double the levels reported by millennial and Gen X respondents (13 percent each), and more than triple the levels reported by baby boomer respondents (8 percent). Mental health challenges amongst Gen z are so alarming that US surgeon Vivek Mikey has addressed a youth mental crises, accelerated by COVID-19, by issuing a public health advisory.
According to the American think tank the Brookings Institution, only 43% of health centers said they were capable of providing telehealth before COVID-19. In 2020, that number increased to 95%. Doctors and nurses have found that they could more efficiently diagnose many minor conditions through a video call or phone call. The lack of accessibility to more traditional mental health services has made consumers more open to alternatives they might find easier to integrate into their routines and budgets. Consumers are turning to TikTok and digital escapism to fill the gap that health centers aren’t.
A 2022 Mckinsey study found that Gen Z respondents were less likely to seek traditional treatment than other generations. Gen Z consumers will search for untraditional ways of coping with their mental stress and anxiety, driving the trend for digital recharging.
Social media and new technology have shaped Gen Z’s life, as they have not lived in a world without it. This generations are most comfortable in the digital world, which will cause them to seek treatment from the digital world, in the digital world. We analyze change through what stays constant. And the vast majority of human experience has been limited by the realities of the physical world. But now billions of people spend many of their waking hours immersed in augmented realities. The rise of new technology has changed consumer expectations and how the future generation expects to interact with brands.
Gen Z consumers are starting to use social media and new technology as an advantage for to address mental health issues instead of seeing it as a disadvantage to their mental health. Consumers are turning to TikTok and VR therapy to escape their emotional stress.
Doctors and psychiatrists are starting to prescribe video games and VR to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and PTHD. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have in 2021 approved VR therapy as a prescribed treatment for chronic back pain. The Zombies Vs. Anxiety 2018 study found that in a group of more than 50 participants struggling with anxiety, two to three hours a week of game time showed a more significant reduction in anxiety than taking a second prescription medication. The clinical phycologist Aime Darmust told Wired that she prescribes games to her patients to practice coping techniques between sessions.
The game Super Better tackles challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and more. Created by the game designer and futurist Jane McGonigal, Super Better is a framework backed by sciences that activates the psychological strengths in the game to build resilience and success in real life. It has proven results when played daily.
Furthermore, the digital therapeutic company Akili Interactive has created the first ever prescription-strength video game EndeavorRx, to treat ADHD in children. EndeavorRx improves attention function in children 8 to 12 with ADHD through an immersive video game experience.
The game must be prescribed by a healthcare professional. The future is bringing together world-class neuroscience with the latest technology and video game entertainment to challenge the status quo of medicine.
Picture: Super Better
A new trend has emerged, TikTok Therapy, where Gen Z is turning to TikTok for mental health advice. Therapists use TikTok to answer stress by trauma, anxiety, while dancing and attracting millions of views. The hashtag #mentalhealh has 50.2 b views on TikTok. With TikTok being Gen Z’ preferred app and with the younger generation being open about mental health issues, it is no surprise that this content is flourishing around on TikTok.
Therapists are entering an era where they have to become content creators and influencers to meet the next generation's needs in the TikTok Ecosystem. Mental health professionals are trying to meet the anxious generation of young people on TikTok by creating funny, relatable TikToks that normalize mental health issues and makes people feel less alone. Marquis Norton, a licensed professional counselor under the TikTok account @drnortontherapy, has over 130 thousand followers. “That’s when I said I’m a content creator now; I’m an influencer,” he told New York Times.
Licensed therapist Courtney Tracey goes under the name @the.truth.doctor on TikTok and has 1.8 million followers on TikTok. @the.truth.doctor addressed everything from mood swings, addiction, anxiety, and childhood trauma while miming along to trending sounds and songs. However, a concern is risin: therapists need to pay extraordinary attention not to encourage patients to self-diagnose.
Pinterest has acknowledged increasing numbers of people coming to Pinterest for inspiration around increased emotional well-being and overall wellness. This includes new ways of taking care of themselves. Epically Pinterest has seen a 7x increase in searches for Sunday Reset Routine and 12.7 x for destressing tips. Furthermore, they have seen a 4x increase in searches for self-care quotes on mental health.
Also, TikTok has become the place for emotional escapism. Gen Z consumers are using the platform for therapeutic content that helps them release stress and for daily inspiration on how to structure their day. Gen Z has started showcasing how they use their Sundays for a relaxing wellness routine on the platform. The hashtag #sundayreset has over 420m views and has become a big part of how Gen Z's spend their Sundays. Gen Z struggles with their mental health, and making these tasks a part of the weekly routine can help reduce stress and ensure to have a productive week ahead.
The Sunday scenario is where fear and anxiety set in for the week about to begin. A study by AASM shows that around a third of Gen Z (32%) "always, almost always, or often" have a more difficult time falling asleep on Sunday nights than other nights. Furthermore, the survey shows that 73% of Americans lose sleep worried about work.
The Sunday reset trend, where consumers show their Sunday routines, has stuck around for years on the platform. The movement exemplifies how Gen Z favors content and trends that let them be themselves.
The familiarity when watching someone doing daily tasks such as cleaning, meal prepping, laundry, and grocery shopping makes users feel more connected to each other.
The content posted with the hashtag #sundayreset on the platform varies. Some show a productive reset day by cleaning the whole home, working out, and studying; others show how people spend their Sundays on the platform by taking a step back by doing facemasks, journaling, lighting candles, and meditating.
According to Greenlight VR and Touchstone Research, 79% of Gen Z US Internet users said they are interested in virtual reality. Research shows that VR can help people fall asleep and improve sleep quality when applied with other relaxing techniques. Furthermore, VR has shown to be a powerful tool for promoting a positive mood and reducing levels of anxiety and depression.
The pandemic has helped customers remember the importance of mindfulness, causing consumers to seek digital escapism.
Esqapes immersive relaxation has created a spa environment where people go to relax by just putting on a VR headset. The technology can take users to a tropical island, or a mountain top, while the body is being massaged with a high-end massage chair. There are ten experiences and scenarios to choose from, all created with the intention to have the user enter a 30-minutes mini vacation.
The company Tripp has built an immersive meditation platform where users can find guided meditations that allow them to unplug from their day inside a virtual reality headset. “Many people that will never feel comfortable taking a psychedelic, this is a low-friction alternative that can deliver some of that experience in a more benign way,” CEO Nanea Reeves tells TechCrunch. The experiences claim to shift the users mood within minutes with its healing audio, guided meditations, mindful techniques, and captivating breathing exercise.
The health and wellness company Ketamine One has partnered with OVR Technology to offer OVR Technology's 'INHALE Wellness Platform' to its patients. The VR platform combines technologies to allow patients to experience different scents, stimulating patients' memories while being a valuable tool for cognitive and behavioral therapy practices.
VR can be beneficial when used for optimizing mental health. VR could make it possible for the patient to interact with a situation that causes them anxiety, and create that environment in the virtual world, while being safe in the real world. Texas-based health startup Rey has launched a virtual mental health wellness platform that combines teletherapy with various immersive digital tools to offer patients an interactive therapy session. The platform makes it possible for clinicians to expose their clients to virtual versions of their real-life triggers, to treat the way the brain copes with them.
Many patients experience anxiety when going to therapy. VR has the potential to reduce the anxiety associated with therapy. It is believed that the metaverse could revolutionize mental health by making consumers more comfortable, building immersive environments, and better personal preferences. Furthermore, this could give the customers the feeling of being in the same room as the expert they are dealing with. Virtual Reality Startup AnomieXR aims to use the power of VR to offer users a highly immersive and accessible therapy session. The company is developing a remote therapy tool that can be accessed through a VR headset, allowing consumers to enter a therapy session from the comfort of their own homes.
Furthermore, the company Ei. Ventures, specializing in psychedelic therapy, has recently announced that it has purchased a plot of virtual land in the metaverse platform. On the Sandbox, the company plans to build virtual clinics where Ei. Ventures therapists can host online psychedelic therapy sessions.
Picture: OVR Technology