Sport, parks and leisure - GWI publishes Wellness Policy Toolkit to help address global mental health crisis...
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02 Jul 2024

GWI publishes Wellness Policy Toolkit to help address global mental health crisis
BY Megan Whitby

Fitness, time in nature spirituality and meditation are just a few examples of mental wellness strategies mentioned in the report

Fitness, time in nature spirituality and meditation are just a few examples of mental wellness strategies mentioned in the report
photo: Shutterstock/PeopleImages.com - Yuri A

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has released a new report emphasising the critical role of mental wellness in supporting overall mental health.

Authored by GWI research fellows Ophelia Yeung, Katherine Johnston and Tonia Callendar, the new report, titled Wellness Policy Toolkit: Mental Wellness, offers a detailed roadmap for enhancing mental wellbeing on a global scale.

The toolkit is designed to show communities, businesses and public policymakers why, and how, they should use targeted policies to promote mental wellness.

This 85-page toolkit aims to illuminate the widespread impact and economic burden of poor mental wellbeing, exacerbated by rising rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness. These issues have been intensified by the pandemic, global conflicts and climate change, straining community health and social resources to their breaking point.

The report champions mental wellness as a distinct and complementary policy area to traditional mental health approaches. It outlines a variety of actionable and inclusive strategies, such as social prescribing, arts and cultural engagement, access to nature and redesigning built environments to foster mental wellbeing.

Lead author, Callendar, said: “Supporting our mental wellness doesn’t mean we need to spend a lot of money or take an expensive trip. This toolkit will help everyone, from the newly initiated to seasoned policymakers, understand why focusing on mental wellness is so crucial.

“The report is the first to explain the many strategies we can choose to improve our resiliency and wellbeing and to demonstrate how new mental wellness initiatives could prove the missing weapon in combatting skyrocketing rates of loneliness, anxiety and depression.”

At the core of the toolkit are five key policy objectives, each paired with practical actions to enhance mental wellness. These sections not only define the problems at hand but also present a wide array of policy solutions, global examples and tangible activities that can be implemented.

The new publication joins the GWI’s ongoing Wellness Policy Series which already includes publications dedicated to Physical Activity and Wellness in Tourism.
Download the free report here.

Mental wellness vs mental health
The report clarifies the distinction between mental wellness and mental health.

“We define mental wellness as an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect and function,” said Yeung. “It’s an active process that helps us to build resilience, grow and flourish.

“We use the words resource and process here because we want to convey that mental wellness is dynamic. It’s a reservoir that can be depleted and replenished, so how we engage with it can profoundly affect our mental wellness.

“Mental wellness is much more than whether we're feeling stressed or sad or lonely or fulfilled. It’s a complex interaction of cognitive, social, emotional and psychological dimensions.”

The GWI team first coined the term mental wellness in 2020 and now values the Mental Wellness economy at US$181 billion. The sector is projected to reach US$330 billion by 2027.

The GWI splits the sector into four categories:
• Self-improvement (US$38.3 billion).
• Meditation and mindfulness US$4.3 billion).
• Brain boosting, nutraceuticals and botanicals (US$60.7 billion).
• Senses, spaces and sleep (US$77.3 billion).

Johnston said: “Mental Wellness has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the wellness economy. It’s also one of the only sectors in the wellness economy that continued an upward trajectory and experienced strong growth throughout the pandemic.”



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