The growing awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing
Multiple research publications have noticed alarming implications of the crisis for people’s mental wellbeing. In particular for younger generations. But, looking beyond the crisis, this is a long term trend that will not just disappear once the Covid-19 and economic crises are over. It is part of a slow revolution going on for decades. Taking a birds eye view on the changing human context will help brands to understand and anticipate and adapt to what is just the beginning of an important trend. A trend that provides both threats and opportunities to businesses: the growing awareness amongst generations for the importance of mental wellbeing.
Living in a performance society
Values in society shift from one generation to another. Over the last few decades our society has changed into what sociologists call the ‘performance society’. People used to live in a command society where there was always someone who told them what to do. Now people live in a performance society: one in which individuals decide much more for themselves what they should do. This then leads to mental pressure, because people expect quite a lot from their own abilities: from working on their own career and being in good shape financially, to finding the right partner and exploring the world. And even if they don’t feel any intrinsic pressure from these things, people may experience vicarious pressure through all the successful and adventurous stories of friends, colleagues and family or via the Instagram account of a stranger. And if something fails, many people blame themselves. Sociologists Keohane and Petersen argue that many contemporary problems of health and well-being have to be understood in the light of radical changes in society and their impact on the experience of individuals, rather than reducing these to an individual’s own problems. So the problems result not only from individual causes or a crisis, but from society and the norms that are imposed.
The human context
Older generations often blame younger generations for ‘wanting it all’, however, it is just the context in which younger generations are growing up. Taking an internal perspective, organizations might want to reconsider their employee benefits programs. This might help organizations to become more attractive as an employer for young talents. Taking a marketing perspective it becomes clear that brands might want to (or should we say need to) help people growing up in the performance society improve their mental wellbeing. Understanding the human context in which trends emerge is quintessential to adjust strategies in the right way. Within the human context lies the key to add meaning, create impact and make the difference.