COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on immune health awareness around the globe. What is not as apparent is the long-term impact of this pandemic on mental wellness. An article published on the World Health Organization's website in October 2020 spelled out how much the pandemic has "disrupted" or "halted" mental health services worldwide. The WHO had already cited the chronic underfunding of mental health before the pandemic. Now, added stressors such as loss of a loved one, social isolation, financial loss, quarantining, misinformation, and fear of the unknown directly contribute to unusual sadness, fear, frustration, helplessness, loneliness, stress, posttraumatic stress, and sleep disturbances.[i] It has opened Pandora's box to a mental wellness crisis.
The pandemic will eventually end, but the impact on mental wellness will last a lifetime for many. Stress is the central underlying mental wellness area due to COVID-19. Of course, stress is not the only area of necessary focus in the natural health arena. There are direct connections similar to a triangle between stress, sleep, and cognitive function. People may have issues with sleep, yet stress is the underlying reason they are having trouble sleeping. The same person may have stress due to the lack of sleep. Or, they may have trouble with cognitive function, not realizing that it is worry (stress) causing them not to remember something. It is a spiral that can and often will get out of control.
Natural health to the rescue
The functional food and dietary supplement industry has an excellent opportunity to provide mental wellness support to those affected (mentally) from COVID-19 stress. While functional foods and dietary ingredients are not the only answer to this crisis, the industry can exert a positive impact by providing essential nutraceutical products. There is an abundance of clinically proven ingredients that positively help with stress, sleep, and cognitive health. The industry needs to focus on creating products that use the therapeutic dose of these clinically substantiated ingredients—perhaps multiple ingredients in the same product. Additionally, marketers can provide supportive informational suggestions such as getting more physical activity, eating healthy, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and decreasing "screen time"
This industry can not only provide support for the millions of those with mental wellness concerns; it can also earn and keep consumer loyalty by providing excellent products and compassion.
David Foreman will be speaking at Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo, 10-13 May 2021. Click here for free registration to this event.
[i] Khan, K.S., Mamun, M.A., Griffiths, M.D., et al. The Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic Across Different Cohorts.Int J Ment Health Addiction (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00367-0