The Growing Social Wellness Landscape

People crave connection. So startups are designing for it.

Before the pandemic, widespread loneliness in the US and other countries was inspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to create solutions and motivating investors to fund them.

Now with quarantines and physical distancing, even more people are recognizing the value — or necessity — of digital platforms and other kinds of products and services that help us connect with our friends, families, and communities.

As a result of these two trends, I am seeing more and more startups target social wellness: the dimension of health that comes from relationships.

Image by NordWood

Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype weren’t designed for digital birthdays or weddings, but that’s what they’re being used for today. In response to users’ evolving needs and desires, social startups are launching or pivoting.

Increasingly, they are moving away from the model of social media that rewards fast, superficial actions (e.g., likes) and toward a new model that promotes meaningful interactions (e.g., conversations). There was appetite for this before the coronavirus, but now it is stronger.

Because social wellness is my area of expertise, I’ve been getting asked about innovation in this space a lot recently. So I mapped out the landscape, identifying 80+ organizations (update: now 160+!) whose primary mission is to reduce loneliness, build community, and/or facilitate connection.

If you’d like to view or add to the list, click here to get access.

And if you’re interested in social wellness more generally, check out my articles, sign up for my newsletter, and connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I write, talk, and work on this topic a lot and am always open to collaborations and partnerships.

Writing, speaking, and working on social health. MPH @ Harvard. Catalyzing connection @ Say hi @

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