I recently wrote about physical health and the impact that has on most areas of our lives, so it only seems right to move on to mental health. Your mental health plays a part in everything that you do, every day – whether you’re awake or asleep, working or spending time with your friends and family, and everything in between – so, when it comes to health and wellbeing, this fundamental area cannot be ignored.
Going back 20 years, mental health wasn’t really spoken about. It held a stigma and was only talked about in secret rooms at the doctor’s surgery, or secret units in the hospital. Fast forward to 2022 and, thankfully, that is no longer the case. With new generations comes the acceptance that everybody has mental health, and the importance of monitoring and managing it is beginning to filter into broader society. Counseling and therapy are no longer words to be whispered about, but rather spoken about openly and seen as another tool to get, and keep, yourself fit and healthy.
There is a big link between financial matters and your mental wellbeing, as having any type of money worries can cause several issues. Nearly 75% of those aged 18 – 34 have experienced a mental health issue linked to money worries, and that should come as no surprise after the two years we have endured. According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, having some form of financial difficulty brings down the recovery rates for common mental health conditions. Customers that suffer with depression and have a serious debt are four times more likely to still have depression 18 months later than people without financial difficulty.
Stats like this highlight that everyone of working age with any type of bill will need some type of protection in place to allow them to take time off if it is necessary. Having income protection in place will negate the worry of having to keep up with everyday bills, as it should be the last thing on anyone’s mind when trying to overcome any illness, especially one that could be made worse by external factors.
What we don’t know is what is likely to come down the line, and the repercussions of the pandemic will no doubt have an ongoing impact on the mental health of thousands of people across the UK. This could be a ticking timebomb for our society and the NHS. The trauma of losing loved ones, not being able to leave the house and see family, job losses and furlough could create a wave of mental health issues, and the NHS is already starting to see a dramatic increase in requests for support. Waiting lists are not getting any shorter.
We are in prime position to help alleviate some of these issues, as this is an area where the protection market, and more specifically insurers, currently lead by example.
Most insurers now offer complimentary additional benefits with each of their products to support customers during the difficult times in their life. The services can be accessed online, through apps, and in person, which allows customers to be seen a lot quicker than having to wait on an NHS list for up to 18 months. It also means that a customer can get the help and support they need without having to visit their GP in person and can tailor their requirements to their individual circumstances at a time that is convenient to them.
Another area that we need to consider, and cannot underestimate, is the impact the pandemic has had on children. Losing two years of their formative lives could impact them as they get older but it is something we will not be able to measure until it happens, meaning this issue is not going to go away soon and is very likely to get worse before it gets better . Some insurers are already ahead of the game and offer their health and wellbeing services to customers’ partners and children up to the age of 21 for a range of issues including anxiety, low mood, and depression.
There are so many amazing services out there that are not being used because it can seem that the market has been flooded with ancillary benefits in the last few years, but don’t let that put you off. Speak to your insurer contacts, colleagues and service providers who are there and on hand to add value to your conversations and your customers’ journeys.
Emma Vaughan is head of protection services at SimplyBiz