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Victory for President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris lends favor to the tech sector’s 2021 mission to address mental health.
What are all these angry millennials who can’t visit their primary care doctor or see a therapist for the anxiety that COVID-19 has continued to impose on their digitally consumed lives, to do? Where can they put all that energy? How can they be sure to protect their own mental and emotional wellbeing during the first global pandemic to this length that this generation has ever faced?
Just look the blow to the Trump Campaign’s futile attempts at blocking the count of absentee ballots with missing dates or names came in loud and clear, by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.
This defeat prevents the counting of 10,000 votes in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, which has been an issue of major contention following what the U.S. thought was the end to a gruesome election season with presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris.
And the President is still not done, going after our tech giants now, with a recent lawsuit against Facebook.
But political nitty gritties to the side--what you should be taking away from this news, is that we are one step closer to a year full of headaches and anxiety. Undoubtedly, the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election season cumulated enormous amounts of stress and anxiety, revealing just how important the need to address our mental health is as we prepare for 2021.
And for our young populations (ages 18-25), it’s become increasingly apparent that mental health makes it to 2021’s priority list. In addition to the drastic changes to our academia and education system, students are facing a new set of challenges like social isolation and loss of social support and interaction. The inability to be in close proximity to other people and reductions on social gatherings, have led students down a path of depression and isolation.
For this reason, virtual wellness services, or “wellness-on-the-go” as it’s commonly referred to are growing more popular than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another company I came across this summer was a wellness-on-demand platform called Soothe. As an avid watcher of The Ellen Show with Ellen DeGeneres, I was excited to see a company like this be introduced to Ellen’s audience.
You can watch the entire segment here (4:30), where The Ellen Show’s surprise guest host, Sean Hayes, introduced Soothe, surprising the audience with a $300 Soothe Gift Card.
Pre-pandemic, Soothe was probably considered more of a luxury, at least that’s how its CEO, John Ellis characterizes it. Soothe holds itself out as the world’s leading on-demand wellness platform, operating in over 73 markets across the U.S., Canada, U.K, Ireland, and Australia. The platform allows users to connect with licensed professionals to schedule a same-day service in the privacy of their home, as well as workplace wellness services.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis says “[Soothe] was a convenient way to treat yourself, especially after a long day of work. As more people started working at home and stress levels increased through the pandemic and into the election, the luxury of Soothe became a necessity, especially as we offered a more convenient way to access health and wellness services in the comfort of your own home.”
In a conversation with Ellis, I was surprised to learn that people would rather have an individual come to them, rather than go into a public space. “Once they see how convenient it is, many have said this is now their new ‘norm,’” he said. But even in a global pandemic, where we are all yearning for some form of long-term human contact, you still don’t want any stranger in your home, right?
The company, according to Ellis, looks at a number of criteria when vetting its licensed therapists for inclusion on their platform, including their certifications, number of years in practice, ongoing reviews and customer feedback, among other things. “The pandemic has clearly raised stress levels around the globe, and we see demand is now even greater than it was pre-COVID.”
Ellis says he has seen distinct differences between how “blue” markets and “red” markets attempted to deal with stress relief, especially during this election season. “‘Red’ markets were more likely to return to normal while ‘blue’ markets were more concerned about personal safety and community health and wellbeing.”
And he isn’t wrong. Everyone has been stressed out and in dire need of relief.
“The negativity and uncertainty of the election process, civil unrest, and the pandemic all culminated in a lot of stress and anxiety,” Ellis explained. “People were divided by their risk tolerance and often along political lines. That stratification made it more difficult and stressful for some to even go to a spa. Mobile wellness platforms like Soothe are able to connect customers with practitioners who will come to them. These are professionals who are trained to help remove stress from both the body and mind. When you can provide that service in a place someone is most comfortable—their home—you remove a lot of the external stressors and additional touch points of going to a retail location.”
Right now, the company’s biggest challenge, especially when it comes to monitoring its service providers, is “monitoring the different pandemic-related health orders around the world.”
“...to help ensure we communicate the appropriate safety protocols and restrictions in various regions for the network of providers. As you can imagine, navigating the often contradictory orders across state and local levels can be tough. In the end though, it’s all about making sure both the client and provider receive the best and safest care.”
At the end of 2020, it’s worth documenting that yes, you can now take a yoga class that allows you to scream, drink, rage, and curse in order to get rid of all that negative energy building up inside of you.
It’s called “rage yoga.” While this form of yoga incorporates some traditional yoga poses, it is a major departure from yoga’s cultural and spiritual origins, adding in an element of active energy and alcohol.
Despite several ancient yogic texts arguing against the incorporation of alcohol into a program, mainly because it can disrupt the mind-body connection, what if it actually helps bolster that connection by allowing you to relax your mind?
Last year, I spoke with the founder and rage coach, Bo Lackey of a legally protected and trademarked program, called Rage Yoga, which encourages participants to cathartically yell, scream, curse, and throw around double-fisted unicorns, while drinking booze. The company holds itself out as the “perfect zen to the impulsive millennial and 9 to 5 Gen X’er.”
Founded by Lindsay Istace, the program ensures participants “do no harm, take no shit.” And what better to let out all your rage and emotional buildup than the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election brought into our everyday lives, whether we liked it or not.
Following my two conversations with Ellis and Lackey, I’ve walked away with one major takeaway: virtual is no substitute for in-person wellness services, which Ellis agreed to.
“...but it will likely continue to augment in-person services. The pandemic really accelerated the delivery and adoption of virtual services at home. After people experience the convenience and safety of having professionals come to their homes, they’re more comfortable with different ways to connect with service providers. Add to that the increased remote workforce, and mobile services will continue to gain in popularity, particularly among busy executives.”
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