A changing societal landscape and increased loneliness in men have led to the rise of retreats and mental-health apps designed with males in mind
The term “wellness” may conjure images of green juices and yoga in the mind’s eye, but it also represents enormously profitable opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs focused on supporting the unique needs of men and women.
On the male side of the equation, tending to men’s social and emotional well-being can offer a transformative and holistic approach to health in an often-neglected area, according to the latest report from The Global Wellness Summit (GWS), which listed 10 wellness trends to watch in 2024.
Wellness has become a top priority of consumers, with GWS projecting the global market to grow from a current $5.6 trillion to a staggering $8.5 trillion by 2027.
Here’s how some companies and organizations are responding to the specific wellness needs of men in 2024:
The Male Loneliness Epidemic
While it’s easy to point to the pandemic as the turning point toward a concern for health and wellness, a changing societal landscape in the U.S. and the increased prevalence of loneliness in men have prompted some in the wellness industry to host retreats and launch mental health apps designed with men in mind.
Talkspace, an online and mobile therapy service, points to research that demonstrates that men are “lonelier than ever,” with 15% of men reporting having no close friends at all — a startling 500% increase since 1990.
“Saturday Night Live” even did a skit on the phenomenon, showing women eager to find their male partner a friend by bringing them to a “man park.” Though meant to provoke laughs, the “friendship recession” men face can have severe consequences beyond not having a buddy to attend a game with; it can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, higher incidences of depression, anxiety and even suicide.
Although wellness has offered women safe spaces to explore their feelings, focus on their needs and connect with others, GWS points out that men have either been left out of the equation entirely or “served cliches around the physical.”
Meditation for Bros: Wellness Retreats
Men’s wellness retreats, such as Evryman and Junto, can serve male consumers with a chance to share their feelings and bond, forging a post-retreat connection. Other offerings, such as Menspedition, provide an adventurous escape for men, hiking peaks in the U.K., participating in meditation, cacao ceremonies, cold water immersion and supportive workshops.
For men who aren’t yet comfortable with a “softer” approach to male bonding, other wellness programs exist — such as California’s Modern Day Knight Project. As GWS puts it, the program is “essentially a reenactment of Navy SEAL Hell Week.” While physically and mentally challenging, participants report feeling bonded with one another. However, it should be noted that GWS gently wonders if this form of male connection is reinforcing outdated ideas of masculinity.
Regardless of hobbies or interests, men can discover a wellness retreat that is most suitable to their needs — with more likely to develop in time.
Even apps are catering to the emotional needs of men, such as Unbreakable Man. While users are encouraged to check in on their feelings, it also connects them to in-person support groups and events.
Filling a Gap in the Market
Looking towards the future, GWS sees a “huge opportunity” for the wellness industry to “champion a more nuanced view of modern masculinity” and will serve more than middle-aged men. From relationship lessons for teen boys, emotional wellness workshops for young men in their 20s, and even communities that give men a “sense of purpose post-retirement,” early interventions can dramatically shift men’s overall health and well-being.
Plus, while the majority of male-centered retreats take place in the Western world, GWS sees the need becoming increasingly global, according to data revealing that men in India (40%), South Africa (29%), Brazil (29%) and China (26%) are the most willing to invest in wellness solutions that promote nurturing and prioritizing relationships.
See the full GWS 2024 Global Wellness Trends report here.
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.