We all want to be well, right? Whether you’re a bit run down and just need a pick me up to get through the next working week, you’re suffering symptoms of a long-standing condition that you just can’t figure out or you’re reaching an age where you want security in your long-term health.
The wellness industry has become ever more popular in an age where chronic illnesses can go undiagnosed for years and access to medical support for mental ill-health is either prohibitively expensive or subject to long wait times. Women and other marginalised people are sometimes dismissed or overlooked in healthcare – where resources are already stretched and spending time really listening to a patient can be difficult even without biases.
To fill the gap, we often turn to the wellness industry; an amorphous, indefinable collection of well doers, businesses and practitioners who offer patients control over their health, empowerment to make medical choices that suit their needs and the gentle ear of a practitioner who’s always willing to listen.
But does the wellness industry really provide answers? Are women really empowered by the range of choices available to them? Is there really a solution to “wellness”?
Dr Alice Howarth is a scientist and skeptic who is also disabled and chronically ill. She’s spent years navigating the healthcare system while trying to learn how to manage her health conditions at the same time as working in academia and juggling a bunch of roles in the skeptical community. As a podcaster with Skeptics with a K and writer for The Skeptic, Alice has researched a wide variety of wellness industry hacks and products and practitioners, and the reasons people might feel encouraged to make use of them.