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Stress and anxiety: Mental health during unprecedented times

Millions suffer from mental health issues globally and, with the world now collectively battling a pandemic physically, emotionally and economically, mental health is an especially important topic today.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year it could not be timelier. Over the last three months, as different countries have imposed stay-at-home orders, we have all been pushed into a different reality, which could mean suddenly having to take on the extra “job” of homeschooling kids, being alone in an apartment, losing a job or worrying about a sick loved one. We all have different challenges these days, but we share the experience of uncertainty, worry and anxiety that, for many, has come with this altered reality. And just as we are trying to take care of our physical health by joining virtual classes or starting that running challenge, we should all remember it is just as critical, if not more so now, to cater to our emotional wellbeing.
At Microsoft Advertising, we have seen this focus on mental health emerge in consumer behavior with searches for “anxiety” and “depression” increasing by 180% and 336%, respectively, since the beginning of March. Furthermore, we often see these searches include words like “test,” “symptoms” and “treatment,” indicating that people are wondering if they might have any of these conditions. Living with a diagnosed mental health condition is likely made even harder these days, but it is just as important to note that even without a diagnosis, our mental health is of vital importance and something we should remember to nurture.
Luckily, mental health is becoming something we talk about more and more. There has historically been a stigma associated with talking about mental health struggles or diagnoses, and we definitely still have a long way to go, but it is positive to see people starting to open up about their struggles by way of search. Search sometimes can be that first step in understanding before reaching out to others or finding tips and best practices that can help a given situation. And as we have seen mental health searches increase over the past months, we have similarly seen an increase in searches for tools and practices known to help and support our mental wellbeing. For example, we have seen a 400% increase in searches related to meditation and meditation apps, +300% in searches for journaling and +400% in searches for practicing gratitude.
With this post, we hope you all out there—our partners, customers, colleagues and everyone else—take the time to prioritize your own mental and emotional wellbeing and reach out to support others when you can. We also want to leave you with a reminder that there is no right or wrong when it comes to how you feel or how you prioritize your mental wellbeing, whether it is during a pandemic or not.
If you want to learn more, check out these great stories about the individual mental health journeys of Lauv and our own Microsoft Advertising Director Joe Walkden, or take a look at how Xbox is enabling us all to share our own mental health stories.
Source: Mental Health and COVID-19 search trends
For these and many other weekly-updated insights, please bookmark our COVID-19 insights and resources for advertisers hub and subscribe to the Microsoft Advertising Insider newsletter to receive blog updates automatically. If you’d prefer to listen instead, follow our Insights with Microsoft podcast series on AppleGoogle and Spotify. Curious about strategies, recommendations and an overview of the search landscape? Read our Digital advertiser’s guide to COVID-19 and Search trends in the time of COVID-19 eBooks. For insights on Marketing with Purpose, which explores building loyalty and creating business value through an expanded view on trust paved with empathy, inclusivity and knowing your brand’s purpose, bookmark our curated hub.