Make mental health support a feature of more insurance policies, says RedArc, prior to World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September)

Direct and employer-sponsored insurance policies could help reduce the UK’s suicide rate

Suicide rates have been on the increase since 2007, according to figures from the Samaritan’s Suicide Statistics Report 2017, highlighting the fact that insurers and employers must not shy away from tackling mental health conditions including chronic depression, stress, anxiety, PTSD and trauma, psychosis & schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, says RedArc.

The personal nurse adviser company believes that early intervention is crucial in nipping mental health conditions in the bud and in preventing an individual from concluding that the only way out of their situation is to take their own life.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “Every suicide is a desperately tragic event and we believe that if more insurers include support for mental health in their policies, and more employers are prepared to offer those policies to staff, we could see a real reduction in the suicide rate.”

Mind the gap

Employees who do not have access to mental health support via their employers’ insurances have to rely on the NHS system, which can mean long waiting times for a GP appointment and waiting lists of 18 weeks are not unusual for vital mental health therapies . Services such as the Samaritans are available but may be seen by individuals as relevant for those whose condition has seriously deteriorated. A gap for more preventative mental health care exists that can be accessed quickly, and ideally long before suicidal thoughts occur.

Preventative care is a real buzzword in healthcare at the moment but traditionally it is more often associated with physical illnesses, however it is just as relevant for mental health conditions too.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc continues: “Early intervention is one of the best ways to combat mental health conditions but if stress and anxiety are allowed to fester they can become much harder to treat.

“All insurers should be looking at ways in which they can build mental health support services into their policies. In practice, preventative measures can mean actual claims are reduced – and so there is a definite business case for insurers.

“The business case for employers is just as strong: employers need to understand exactly what additional benefits are provided within their group insurances and consider switching away from policies that do not provide mental health support. Not only will staff feel more positive about their employer for supporting them through a difficult time, but employers may avoid a potentially longer spell of staff sickness absence.”

RedArc has treated thousands of patients who referred for mental health reasons and many more who refer for a physical illness and subsequently developed a mental health condition as a consequence. The company understands the complexities of mental health conditions and knows that the issues that lead to suicidal thoughts span both the workplace and home life – and as our lives get more and more complicated and busy, our ability to cope is increasingly under pressure.