The world is suffering from a mental illness crisis, according to the Mental Wellness Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute. Lead by initiative chair Gerry Bodeker, Ph.D., the initiative aims to understand the pathways that help people stay well and thrive mentally as well as physically. According to the initiative, roughly one billion people suffer from anxiety, and one in four people experience mental disorders. In an effort to share its research, which includes the spa and wellness industry’s effect on mental wellness, the initiative recently released a white paper titled Mental Wellness: Pathways, Evidence, and Horizons at the 2018 Global Wellness Summit.
The paper defines mental wellbeing as “a mental state where one achieves a sense of fulfillment and lives a mindful, positive, happy and healthy life in which one contributes purposefully to societal development and community. It is not a fixed state, but an ever-evolving state that one progresses towards throughout their life cycle.” The publication of the white paper coincides with the latest UN progress report on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the initiative, the UN’s 2018 report’s only reference to mental health was that public open spaces in cities contribute to physical and mental health, which the initiative states is more of a mantra than a conclusion supported by evidence.
The initiative focuses on mental wellbeing as a state of natural human functioning and part of an ongoing profession towards the optimization of human potential, which is reflected by the evidence provided to achieve that wellbeing and optimization included in the paper. The paper starts with the quote “there are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same,” which is reflective of the many opinions collected and documented throughout the paper that lead to the same conclusion—the development of wellbeing and human potential.
The 123-page paper is split into two parts. The first section is titled Overview – Pathways, Evidence, and Horizons, which includes research on early life prevention and the first 1,000 days of life, neuroplasticity and mental wellness, the gut-brain axis, nutrition and the brain, inflammation and mental health, pathogens and mental health, the different forms of rest (including sleep, meditation, and massage), aroma, laughter, environment (including the sun, light, being in nature, pollution, and climate change), movement (including exercise, yoga, Tai Chi, and dance), the arts (including music, art and art therapy, and writing, journaling, and writing therapy), social dimensions of wellness, economic factors influencing mental wellness, spirituality and faith, conscious leadership, higher human potential, and consciousness in mental wellness.
The second section is titled Spa and Wellness Industry: Evidence and Guidelines, which includes global trends in spa and mental wellness, mental wellness as a framework for spa and hospitality professionals, case studies of organizations supporting worker mental wellbeing and creating a caring workplace culture, incentivizing wellness, ethics and wellness, as well as an employer/employee survey.
Contributors to the paper include initiative members Beata Aleksandrowicz (United Kingdom), Nancy Board (United States), Margareth Brepohl (Brazil), Lawrence Choy, MD (United States), Daniel Friedland, MD (United States), Bryan Hoare (Hong Kong), Fikry Isaac, MD (United States), Robert Ranzi (Austria), and Vanessa Stoessel (Switzerland), as well as Alina Hernandez, Vivienne O’Keeffee, and Sergio Pecorelli, MD and Ph.D.
For more on the Mental Illness Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute and access to the full white paper, click here.