Mental health crisis – is travel the antidote?

Mental health crisis – is travel the antidote?

Figures were recently released that provide a daunting reality for all of us but most particularly, for our generation of young women regarding issues of mental health. NHS Digital carried out an Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey – published 29/9/16. The study found 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screen positive for PTSD, 19.7 % self harm and 28.2% have a mental health condition – “Mental illness is soaring amongst young women in England” said one of the headlines;

The NHS survey also found that between 2007 and 2014, the number of women aged 16-24 who screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) tripled from 4.2% to 12.6%.

For soldiers who have served on the front line, most studies show that between 10-30% develop PTSD. It is a startling and very dark reflection on our society that PTSD is becoming as common for an average civilian young women as it is for a soldier who has seen front line conflict and all the atrocities associated with that. This is what a public health crisis looks like.

Why is it happening?  The report cites sexual violence, childhood trauma and pressures from social media as the main culprits but especially, the selfie phenomenon and the destruction of self worth and personal confidence by the false reality that social media can create.

In addition, the Psychiatric Morbidity Survey also found that between 1993 and 2014 there was a 35% rise in the number of adults reporting serious symptoms of common mental health issues and in total 17% of people suffer from a common mental health issue in the UK. It is encouraging that more sufferers are coming forward to receive help but it also reveals the depth and the horrifying numbers of people suffering.

On October 10 (World Mental Health Day) social media was ablaze with posts of individual’s experience of mental health challenges and their brave sharing of what it has taken to overcome and sustain their own equilibrium. Discussions and articles around the subject were widespread as WMHD inspired the masses and contributed, at least in part, to the reduction of stigma and taboo around the subject of mental illness.

There is a colossal and urgent need for a deep rooted and radical strategy change that addresses all aspects of what ‘normal’ has become, The necessity for a more preventive, pro active health based  society is being screamed from every corner, the legacy we are leaving to the young people of this world needs to be reinvented.

It is grim reading but there is some light …Millennials love to travel. They travel more often than other generations for business (4.7 times )  and leisure (4.2 times), they also like to take care of themselves and they understand the pursuit of good health, at least in the physical sense. They are a positive generation and whilst they are labelled as entitled and ‘having it easy’ they also show themselves to be very liberal and with an in built sense of global citizenship.

Much of wellness related travel links firmly and intrinsically to digital detox as a fundamental component of a program or wellness related experience. From 24/7 emails through to the ubiquitous onslaught of social media – it is vital for all of us, to take a break, recalibrate and be aware of just how much better we feel when we grow back into our own selves.

It is little wonder that the demand for wellness related travel is booming – people want and NEED to feel better.  It is also becoming more and more evident that the convergence of wellness and hospitality is gaining more depth and momentum.  The announcement in August of Chris Norton, the former president and COO of Four Seasons joining Equinox as CEO of it’s hospitality business, says a lot about the direction hospitality is taking. Even Hotels – ‘Where wellness is built in’ were one of the first out of block for a truly wellness anchored experience whilst travelling and hotel chains are seeking to deliver their own version.  It isn’t so long ago that having a spa was the dedicated wellness adjunct.  Now, more than ever, it is being evidentially seen that in hospitality, as in lifestyle, the integrated, almost imperceptible accents that influence wellbeing toward a more balanced life are being woven through travel experiences as a norm.

With their penchant for travel, will Millennials and Gen Z be more influenced by what they experience outside their living environment? Is it possible that education via travel experience will backward engineer lifestyle habits versus lifestyle shaping travel trend for this generation?

Make sure you see Anni Hood and many other speakers at the Wellness Travel Symposium session at WTM London hosted by Global Wellness Institute.

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Anni is the founder and CEO of Anni Hood, Wellness Business Consultancy, an international advisory firm working with both public and private sector organisations who seek advice and global expertise in the rapidly evolving sector of spa, health, wellness and wellness tourism. Widely recognised as a leading wellness business specialist, Anni advises and supports public organisations, private businesses and individuals to achieve optimal results within the realm of health and wellness. Her work anchors in conceptual development, brand creation, integration and enablement of services, strategic and operational design, operational delivery, programming and re positioning. In addition, Anni leads wellness tourism for the Global Wellness Institute and is the founder and visionary behind K.I.S Lifestyle ® – an online wellness community that enables affordable and accessible integrative health expertise through a range of assessment tools, programming support and coaching options. Her career history has carved out a unique appreciation of multi sector wellness offerings. Anni’s experience has been in hotels, spas and restaurants, inclusive leisure resorts and high end global brands such as the Jumeirah Group, The Sanctuary, Meadowood and Clinique La Prairie. You can find her at

One comment

  1. Hi Anni, this really resonated with me. My blog is about my experiences of improving my wellbeing through travel. For me I see travel not as a way of escaping my world but making it bigger and giving more perspective. Travel shows me there is a bigger world when mine is small and closing in and I hope my experiences help others. Fantastic article!

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