Last week saw National Stress Awareness Day. Too stressed to notice? You aren’t alone. The modern world transpires to make us all a lot more stressed out than we ever have been before. One of the biggest reasons for this is the monumental change that the technological revolution has brought to our lives. We are now effectively all on call 24/7. It can be incredibly difficult to get away from work pressures, to switch off all devices and just be. Even without the work element, being able to stay constantly in touch with news, both personal and in terms of current affairs, is tiring and when your mind is always whirring with new information, life can get out of balance.
The theme of this year’s National Stress Awareness Day was Stress: The Balancing Act. It must be a rare person indeed that could claim to never feel any stress but when stress gets out of hand, and affects our ability to function on a daily basis, it can seriously sabotage our mental health. Mental health is an area still surrounded by stigma. Whereas it’s often easy to see the effects that a physical illness has on someone, mental illness is not usually ‘visible’ and therefore is open to misunderstanding. Quite simply, as a society we don’t have as much sympathy for mental health sufferers as we do for, say, someone who has cancer, or a broken leg. An attitude of ‘pull yourself together’ prevails. Thankfully there are groups such as the charity Mind and support group Rethink Mental Illness who are working hard to overcome this.
The statistics say that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain according to the Mental Health Foundation. A report by Aviva stated that 77% of GPs believe that mental health is the biggest issue they will treat over the next year and the Office for National Statistics reports that, in the workplace, it remains one of the biggest causes of long-term sickness absence. Many of us worry that our physical health will fail and we make provision for that through private medical insurance (PMI). Are we equally prepared for any failings in our mental health? How does PMI work in terms of mental health issues and what can PMI cover?
Experts agree that quick access to treatment is vital if a patient is to manage and recover from mental health problems. In the Aviva report, 85% of patients spoken to fear their mental health would deteriorate during long waits for therapy. It is possible for PMI to help with this. There are private medical insurance policies available that make provision for mental health care. Some PMI policies provide out-patient cover for psychiatric treatments while some insurance companies have set up extra support such as help lines that can offer advice and stress counselling. PMI policies are available that make provision for mental health treatments including ‘talking therapies’ which include counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy.
As with all insurance, it is vital to disclose any pre-existing conditions that could otherwise make any potential claim invalid. Just this week a very high-profile case involving mental health and insurance has been splashed across the media. The Rolling Stones’ insurer is refusing to pay out an £8 million claim for shows cancelled following the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott earlier this year. The band had been insured against unforeseen events leading to the cancellation of shows. However, their insurance company is arguing that the policy stated a claim would only be valid if shows were cancelled due to events ‘sudden and unforeseen’. As Ms. Scott was reportedly suffering from anxiety and depression in the lead up to her death the insurer can therefore argue that her suicide was not sudden and unforeseen but due to mental health issues that had apparently not been fully disclosed when the policy was taken out.
Delving into such details must be incredibly painful for the family and friends of L’Wren Scott but it goes to show that whether you’re Joe Bloggs or a world famous rock star it’s all in the small print. Make sure you are completely honest about both your current situation and any pre-existing conditions when setting up any health insurance policy otherwise it could affect any pay out you might be entitled to.
If you have any concerns regarding private medical insurance and mental healthcare talk to our brokers who will be able to advise you professionally and discreetly. They can compare policies and quotes and help you to find the best policy to suit your needs.