Business & Tech, Features

BU student founds platform for women to discuss well-being collaboratively

A handful of women gathered virtually last week to discuss how they can improve their well-being through natural remedies.

Wellbeings, a platform aiming to bring women together and promote wellness, hosted a panel on Thursday discussing the use of the term “backed by science” in the wellness field. COURTESY OF WELLBEINGS

Wellbeings, launched in September, provides a collaborative digital space for women to discuss all aspects of mental health. The organization hosted a panel Thursday to discuss the term “backed by science” and its implications in the wellness field.

Co-creator Gabrielle Rizzo said during the event the purpose of Wellbeings is to bring women together to openly discuss and support each other.

Wellbeings hosts talks on health care inequalities, consumerism and sustainability, centered around holistic wellness and purpose-driven living.

Co-creator Harper Wayne, a junior in Boston University’s College of Communication, said the platform is available to any woman who wants to have a space to speak.

“We’ve had a lot of women in their 20s to women in their 40s and 50s,” Wayne said in an interview. “We’ve slowly had college kids trickle in, which has been really, really nice. But honestly, it’s to any female or feminine-identifying person that wants to come and be a part of it.”

Guest speaker Lily Galef is the co-founder of Hilma, a natural remedies company that claims its products are “backed by science.” Galef said at the event she grew frustrated with how loosely this assertion is used.

“I feel like the term ‘backed by science’ has almost become meaningless in the wellness space, because I see every single brand talking about it,” Galef said. “I think it sort of is becoming like the new ‘clean or natural,’ because there’s no regulation around whether or not you can say it, and it sounds good.”

Companies do not take the term “backed by science” seriously, Galef said. Because natural remedy brands are not required to conduct clinical studies, which she said can be expensive, it is easier for them to simply advertise the term on their products without the hard evidence.

Galef also said natural remedies are often met with misconceptions, which she narrows down to a cultural disconnect.

“Natural remedies typically are thought of as maybe more Eastern or holistic and more garnered through experience and experiential learning, rather than Western scientific learning,” Galef said. “What’s really interesting about trends in the wellness space, and particularly what we’re doing at Hilma, is trying to bring those two things a little bit closer together.”

Wayne said hosting virtual events is especially important during a pandemic, when mental health and feelings of community are in jeopardy.

“Wellness isn’t just necessarily what you eat,” Wayne said. “Broadening that definition and also hearing from other people [is important], because that’s just how I found I learn the best.”

Marissa Carty, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email she notices it’s often difficult for women to find the resources they need to maintain their well-being, especially at BU, where she feels resources aimed at women are scarce.

“I know women are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses on average, but I’ve never seen anything on campus or beyond campus directly targeting women’s mental health,” Carty wrote. “It’s a shame, because women are held to higher standards and receive less recognition in so many ways.”

Wayne said she takes pride in what Wellbeings has accomplished in the health realm thus far and aims to maintain her optimistic energy.

“I’m honestly really really proud of what we’ve been doing recently,” Wayne said. “I’m trying to stay positive and stay peaceful.”

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