Until relatively recently, health insurance was very much about our physical wellness, covering injuries, illness and long-term conditions. In the last few years, however, insurers have recognised the huge importance of mental health, with the majority adapting cover to include stress, anxiety and depression.
At ActiveQuote, we believe that mental wellbeing and physical health are two sides of the same coin, and we work closely with our partners to ensure that cover for both goes hand in hand. But what do you need to look for in your health insurance to make sure your mental health needs are met? Our guide explains more.
Mental health and insurance
It’s long been recognised that one in four people in the UK is affected by a mental health issue each year and, according to insurance body ABI, around four million of us will also struggle with our financial wellbeing. With the ‘tsunami’ of mental health conditions predicted by psychiatrists in the wake of the Covid pandemic, it’s more important than ever to look after the nation’s emotional health.
ABI figures show that, in 2017, mental health was the chief reason for income protection claims - and the health insurance industry is seeing a similar rise in customers looking for that cover. At ActiveQuote, for example, we’ve seen that the number of under-30s comparing health insurance has risen by 40%. The younger generation tends to be more open in talking about mental health issues and is more likely to expect to see this kind of cover in their policy, with health insurance providers responding quickly to this need.
Mental health support when you need it
Pre-Covid, it was already becoming increasingly difficult to get a GP appointment, with the average wait to see a doctor passing the two-week mark for the first time last year. If you’re worried or anxious - or if your thoughts are turning to self harm or even suicide - this can simply be too long to wait.
Our partners recognise this and are including innovative, customer-centric benefits in their health insurance as a result. Axa’s core cover includes 24/7 telephone access to healthcare experts, while its mental health add-on cover includes the cost of care in a private hospital or as a day patient, accommodation, diagnostic tests and medication.
With an Exeter Assist policy, members can call a GP helpline and also access phone counselling, 365 days a year, to talk about a wide range of issues including domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, debt, relationships, legal matters and general health and wellbeing.
Bupa, meanwhile, has launched a mental health hub to show the ‘normal’ face of mental health, with a campaign to reflect the diverse backgrounds and circumstances of those experiencing anxiety and depression. In addition, Bupa has extended its mental health cover to support anyone experiencing eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, as well as drug and alcohol addiction and issues arising from learning disorders including ADHD and ASD.
Mental health support for your family
When it comes to accessing the right support, young people face even more of a postcode lottery, with a quarter of children and teenagers turned away for specialist mental health treatment, including those who have self-harmed or been abused.
Having the right family health insurance can be the best way to protect the physical and emotional wellbeing of your loved ones. Many family policies include mental health cover as standard for children up to the age of 18, as well as cover for children up to the age of 21 if named on the policy, such as those away at university.
This reassures you as a parent that, if your child finds the stress of exams or the pressures of social media a little overwhelming, you can access specialist help quickly. We know that young people are more likely to access digital health appointments than their older relatives, which is what makes mental health insurance so effective, as it offers them the opportunity to speak to the right person from the security of their own bedroom.
Preventing mental health issues
Just as important as treating mental health conditions is preventing them arising or worsening in the first place. Anxiety and mild depression can often be treated with therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), mindfulness and gentle exercise, preventing problems from escalating.
If you’re feeling low or worried about someone you know, read our article on spotting the signs of anxiety and depression and try our 10 small steps to boosting your mood. Comparing health insurance quotes can also give you reassurance that, should you need to talk things through, the right support is available straight away at the end of a phone, without the need to access medical services.
When it comes to finding the best mental health cover for you and your family, there’s a lot of choice. If you’re unsure which is suitable, call our team free on 029 2009 0721 and we’ll go through the options with you.