Listen Up: Mental Health is the New Wealth

By Tony Chen, Founder and CEO, Channel Factory

This past year has forced me as a founder and CEO to redefine several constructs I used to regard as dogma. Take the concept of wealth: in the traditional sense, wealth is an abundance of money or earthly possessions. However, several months of pandemic life and deep thinking have me looking at the concept of wealth very differently. While it’s nice to have earthly possessions, we’ve seen that true wealth comes from within. Wealth is positivity. Wealth is happiness. Wealth is a human connection we’ve so desperately needed throughout the last year.

People have begun putting a greater emphasis on their mental health by choosing to seek out happiness. Most are finding comfort in positive content; content that makes them feel good and offers an escape even if only for a little while. As a result, positive content has been on the rise — both with how much is being produced and how much is being watched.

We’ve also learned that positive content will lead to long-term success.

The Impact of COVID

Living through a  global pandemic for more than a year now has changed almost every single aspect of our lives. It is evident that this type of situation is having a drastic impact on the mental health of many.

In 2020, roughly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019. Additionally, many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over COVID.

It is not surprising that these negative impacts felt in our personal life have poured over into our professional life. Overall mental health and well-being have dropped 33% since the start of the pandemic, with 44% of business leaders reporting a decline in team morale. As a result of this, nearly half of business leaders have seen an increase in employees using their mental health benefits.

Consumers are longing for something positive to hold on to. The last thing most people want to do when they are feeling the full weight of the current situation is continue to surround themselves with negativity. And so, after a year of coping, we turn our energy to seeking positive content across the board.

Positive Content on the Rise

Media consumption habits have changed significantly over the last year. Consumers have been turning to all outlets, including streaming services, news sources, video platforms, podcasts and music to escape for a little while. Research done by Channel Factory early in the pandemic found that 81% of people were going to YouTube to boost their moods.

Take John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” for example. The actor created a YouTube channel at the onset of the pandemic to share feel-good stories with his audience. This trend is not just exclusive to video content. National Geographic has created two good news-themed newsletters since the start of the pandemic and The Washington Post has worked to meet the demand for positive content by turning its weekly good-news newsletter, “The Optimist” into a biweekly send, which highlights one uplifting story per day.

Consumers are seeking content that not only makes them feel more positive mentally but also creates a sense of familiarity and comfort. They’re craving something funny, familiar and easy to digest. In a world that feels as if it has been turned upside down, people are choosing to seek out content that improves their mental health, and a few brands have caught onto this, but there is still room for more.

Positivity = Success

Positive content can ultimately mean long-term success for brands, and outlets like National Geographic and The Washington Post have already caught on to the importance of positivity. Consumers actually want brands to contribute in a meaningful way to a better world, 69% of consumers say they would prefer to buy from brands committed to socially conscious causes.

Brands that create positive content, create an impact-driven strategy, or engage in responsible advertising are showing consumers that they are listening. Recent research done by Channel Factory showed that 68% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that are committed to making online environments more positive.

At the end of the day, people need positivity. As the pandemic has continued far beyond our initial assumptions, priorities have begun to shift. Gone are the days of being commercially obsessed with having the newest product, or the most money. There is a greater emphasis on our overall well-being, our mental health, and our work/life balance.

This is why I am dedicated to the idea of creating a more conscious ecosystem, with positive content for consumers that brands can monetize and support. Conscious advertising is a pillar of Channel Factory’s work and will continue to be an important strategy for us to help ensure we are contributing to a healthier digital ecosystem.

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