Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “A political manifesto without reference to mental health would have been badly judged in this day and age, so we’re pleased to see that all the major parties are treating this issue with the attention that it deserves and promoting equality for mental and physical health.
“We believe that insurers need to follow suit and ensure they have policies in place to support people who suffer with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, chronic depression, stress, PTSD & trauma, psychosis & schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Further, a major part of some parties’ approach to the treatment of mental health will be via employers – so group insurers would be wise to get their ducks in a row sooner rather than later for this market too.”
People who do not have access to mental health support via direct or group insurances, have to navigate the NHS system. Even with the proposed investments from each political party, this will take some time – often meaning a potentially longer spell of absence from work – which can stretch finances, and add to pressures for the individual.
Early intervention is key in supporting people with mental health conditions. In fact research from RedArc based on two widely-used mental health screening tools (PHQ9 and GAD7**), demonstrates how patients can recover to normal mood levels if their symptoms are nipped in the bud and not allowed to become progressively worse in the wait for treatment:
- With early-intervention programmes (usually via EAP, health insurance or group risk products):
- eight out of ten patients saw a reduction in both their PHQ9 and GAD7 scores, equating to their condition improving
- the average reduction in the score for both tests was over 50 per cent
- 70 per cent of patients recovered to normal mood levels within three to four months
Husbands concluded: “Many insurers simply don’t offer enough support for people with these conditions but they need to wake up and smell the coffee: polices with thought-through and full mental health support are the ones that will stand out in this market. Not all mental health support is the same, some can be very light touch and short term, and, in our experience, this doesn’t go far enough. Support that is provided by specialists who have the time, experience and knowledge is where we see the most effective results.
“Those insurers that do have such cover in place may not be successfully promoting this aspect of their schemes, and a lack of communication usually equates to a lack of take-up.
“A little less conversation and a little more action is now required on the part of insurers to make a significant difference to the mental health of their clients – and a good first step would be in creating a business manifesto or pledge about what that looks like.”
** PHQ9 – is a Patient Health Questionnaire – a multipurpose instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring and measuring the severity of depression. GAD7 – is a self-reported questionnaire for screening and measuring the severity of Generalised Anxiety Disorder