Local Perspectives: Mental Health

June 8, 2017

From commercial to personal, the routes to mental wellbeing

The concept of health has developed from something associated with diet and physical exercise to a holistic entity. In particular, we’ve seen a great deal of attention placed on mental health and wellbeing, from government reports, media articles and the growth of mindfulness and meditation resources. As a result, in certain countries in the West, stigma surrounding depression, anxiety and other mental health issues is on the decline as consumers are encouraged to discuss concerns and seek support when necessary, from conventional routes and new technological aids alike. We take the global temperature of all things mental health and well being, with a little help from our global network of Trendspotters.


‘Health as a concept in Sweden is an umbrella term, so you don’t look at either physical or mental health but it comes as a package.’
Sandy, 27, Stockholm

‘ I used a Fitbit that would track my physical activity and my sleep -, the more sleep I got, the more mentally fit I would be for the next day, which I think applies to everyone.’
Carlos, 34, Miami

‘I have seen bodybuilding and supplement companies advocate the health and emotional benefits of working out, and speak openly about depression, which I think is fantastic because exercise is just as effective at combatting depression as taking medication.’
Crystal, 27, San Diego


Foresight Factory Trendspotter mental wellbeing
Sandy, 27, Stockholm

Finding the flow; a new source of status

Mental wellbeing is closely associated with moments of downtime and stress-alleviating reprieve and, perhaps unsurprisingly, such moments are becoming imbued with social status. Our trendspotters speak of examples of performative relaxation mostly via apps; the sociable aspect of wellbeing and popularisation of buzzwords like #hygge, #slowliving and #mindfulness suggest there’s new outward status to be found in pursuing inner calm  –  to be shared on your social media channel of choice.


Frantic busyness, meanwhile, is not only regarded as damaging to healthy living but a potent signal to others that your life is not under control and that your workload or social commitments are not being adequately managed. This is not to say that busy lives are not desirable; no, we get the sense that the most successful lives to parade are those that calmly flow through busy lives and which reserve time and resources for mental rejuvenation on a regular basis.










How the masses manage mental wellbeing

Carlos, 34, Miami

What are the new routes to mental wellbeing that global consumers are exploring? It’s now a considerable proportion of us who express an interest in practicing mindfulness or meditation; FFonline data shows that 63% of consumers globally have done so or are interested in doing so. Then there’s the 69% of people that openly admit to their failings. As is now often the case, much behaviour has been prompted by technological innovation; apps such as Headspace (reportedly downloaded over 14 million times) and even VR-assisted means of meditation have supplemented the deep conversations with our friends, family and even our therapist.

What are the new routes to mental wellbeing that global consumers are exploring? It’s now a considerable proportion of us who express an interest in practicing mindfulness or meditation. Foresight Factory research, published on FFonline, shows 63% of consumers globally have either practised, or are interested in practicing mindfulness or meditation.









‘It may not be the face to face, personal approach that counseling provides but it is a tool that can benefit those seeking some kind of relief. No matter the time or place, I imagine that these apps would help the consumer at anytime. I know that if I was going through a mental issue, I would use every resource at my disposal – including apps, as well as speaking to someone in person.’
Carlos, 34, Miami

Technological innovations are also creating options for those who don’t feel comfortable seeking professional help, or perhaps aren’t at a point where they feel this is quite necessary.  FFonline data shows that 49% of consumers are interested in apps that monitor their stress levels. Interestingly there’s no significant difference across either age groups or gender for either data point.  These apps and their shareability bridge the online and offline worlds and provide a new route for consumers to explore their feelings or state of mind in an environment that’s personal, accessible and highly intimate.


The commercial response

Foresight Factory Trendspotter Crystal mental wellbeing
Crystal, 27, San Diego

And how are those in the position of commercial authority responding to consumers’ growing willingness to share their problems and desire to break down the stigma around mental health? They are looking for meaningful ways to connect with audience, tapping on the influence of celebrities to spread the message. Försäkringskassan, Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency  the name of which means ‘the insurance till’ extends sick pay to those taking mental health leave. Partnering with blogger and entrepreneur Isabella Löwengrip, they offer advice to companies on best practices to take care of their employees’ mental wellbeing. In the US, celebrities like Demi Lovato and Mayim Bialik are leading the conversation with the National Alliance on Mental Health.

‘I like that the commercial makes it easier to relate to people going through what you’re going through, especially celebrities, and gives you access to help via a phone number you can call.’
Carlos, 34, Miami

‘I think those sort of campaigns have been really successful because although it comes from the state, the influencer actually has a big impact because they have experienced burn-outs themselves.’
Sandy, 27, Stockholm

In the social realm, Instagram launched a mental health awareness feature at the end of 2016 that allows users to anonymously flag posts relating to self-harm and other mental health concerns. Once a report about a user has been sent, the user will receive a message offering support and a range of options, such as helplines to call, or advice for helping a friend or family member with an issue. Then there’s Anxy, a Kickstarter-funded magazine that launched in May 2017. It aims to promote discussion surrounding mental health to encourage discussion of traumatic experiences and allow people to share their stories through interviews, visual pieces and feature reports.

‘There is a beauty brand called Philosophy that directs 1% of sales from its skincare and fragrance lines to mental health charities, with a special focus on issues that particularly affect women, like postpartum depression and psychological trauma linked to domestic abuse.’
Carlos, 34, Miami

Have you come across a campaign, innovation or news story that you believe addresses this topic well? Tweet us at @futurethoughts , we’d love to hear from you.



Written by Laura Van Eeckhout

Laura is one of Foresight Factory's Account Directors, overseeing the relationships with global clients across a range of industries, including travel, retail and FMCG. She also heads up the company's Global Trendspotter Network.

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