Therefore, a key challenge for the wellness industry is inequality. People who have access to expensive yoga retreats, organic food, and artisan water, can afford to curate personalised dietary plans and earthly Instagrams, while others are still unable to source essential amenities.
Mann argues this is also true to New Zealand, “There are also issues for New Zealand within wellness, we have inequity, obesity, and poor housing, so not everybody can go and buy fancy yoga pants and have access to this culture. As New Zealanders we don’t like the fact that some people can access something, that not everybody can access, in terms of the same quality of life.”
It’s not just expensive, but the medical research behind these products, apps, services, and workshops is often unclear. As The Atlantic rightly points out, the industry's relationship with evidence is interesting. The movement draws upon scientific claims when it suits, yet defines itself as subversion to the scientific establishment.
So, it’s not simply that economically deprived communities can’t access wellness culture, but also, for those who can it’s unclear of the return, as they are often hard-pressed to find conclusive medical evidence that these wellness programmes will improve their mental health. In short, because the industry is filled with new products and services, it’s hard to separate the shit from the shaman.
To help overcome these challenges, Mann says, “It’s about innovation, to make sure that those who are making these products and services provides access for everybody. It is also about looking at it systemically, it’s not just about creating a product or app, it’s about looking around that and understanding the culture effects.”
This story originally appeared on Idealog.