As we reach the halfway point of Mental Health Awareness Week, many Britons have less protection than they think they have against a mental health crisis, according to national IFA firm Continuum.
For this year’s awareness week, mental health charity Mind is focusing on the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on our mental health.
Many Britons with health insurance in place assume that this cover would also apply to all mental health services, but the truth is the type of coverage for mental health can vary hugely between policies.
As NHS services come under strain, and wait periods for treatments continue to grow, and the cost-of-living crisis putting many UK households under pressure, 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.
Craig Parkinson, Mortgage and Protection Consultant 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.
“For those with existing mental health difficulties it can be difficult to get the cover you want. 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.
“Sometimes those with existing mental health difficulties might be asked difficult or personal questions about your mental health, sometimes by staff who do not have specialized mental health training. A good financial adviser can also help the application process feel less upsetting or intrusive by managing the process and gaining the information required in a sensitive fashion.”
There are also other forms of protection cover that can help in the event of a mental health crisis.
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.
Craig Parkinson continued: “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 payments are 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.
“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.”