The Coronavirus pandemic and cost-of-living crisis continue to take a toll on the mental health of the nation. Britons need to make sure they have adequate insurance cover in place should they face their own mental health crisis, according to national IFA firm Continuum.
Last Monday saw the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.
WHO estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time mental health services in the UK have been severely disrupted with the treatment for mental health conditions widening as a result.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, mental health services received a record 4.3million referrals in 2021.
As NHS services come under strain, and wait periods for treatments continue to grow, what can Britons do to ensure that they get the treatment they need quickly and locally should they face a mental health crisis?
With the cost-of-living crisis putting many UK households under strain, it is more important than ever that Britons make sure they have adequate protection in place in case they should face their own mental health crisis.
Ben Alcock, Independent Financial Adviser at Continuum said: “The pandemic all too clearly demonstrated that our health is even more important than our wealth. However, although health must come first, mental health and wealth affect each other. Stress affects us physically and financial worries are one of the main causes of stress for many of us.
“Fortunately, there are ways to protect both mental health and wealth if things go wrong.
“A good private medical care policy will cover you in the event of a mental health crisis. It can mean getting back to full health faster, but can be expensive. Pre-existing conditions are often not covered but a good financial adviser can help even those with existing mental health issues get the level of cover they need.
“Private medical care is not the only type of health-related cover you might want to consider. If you are too unwell to work it can mean financial problems for you and your family. Thankfully insurance cover also exists to provide an income if illness prevents you from working.
“Critical illness cover pays a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with any of the illnesses listed in the policy. However, most policies are focused on cancers, heart attack and stroke, so securing critical illness cover for mental health conditions can be a challenge.
“Accident, sickness and unemployment cover is usually offered for a wider range of conditions so may be a better option for those worried about a mental health crisis affecting their finances. This can provide a replacement income in the event of illness, accident or redundancy, but the payment of benefits is generally limited to a maximum of 12 or 24 months.
“It is important to check exactly what benefits the policy you are interested in will pay for. Always read the small print to check if any mental health illnesses and treatments are excluded.
“It is possible to take these types of cover as standalone policies – but at Continuum, we often recommend that this type of cover is arranged as part of a complete financial protection plan. It means complete peace of mind – and it can help keep costs down.
“For help with getting the health protection you need, and integrating it into an all-round protection plan, you need expert, individual advice.”
A recent survey from HSBC’s insurance business, HSBC Life, has also found that financial advice has a fundamental link to good physical and mental health.1 Three quarters (74%) of those who used a regulated financial adviser said they have average or above average mental health. For those who did not have regular financial planning help, half said they have below average mental health.
Martin Brown, Managing Partner at Continuum, said: “World Mental Health Day offers us all the opportunity to reflect on our mental health and the mental health and wellbeing of those around us.
“At Continuum we believe it is as important for clients to seek protection for their mental health as it is for their physical health. Health and wealth are intrinsically linked and a good financial adviser should help you secure the future of both.”