According to mental health charity Mind, which in June conducted a survey of 10,000 people to see what impact Coronavirus has had on mental health, a total of one in four adults and more than one in six young people experienced mental distress for the first time during the pandemic. Latest NHS figures also show the number of people in contact with mental health services is the highest since the first lockdown (1.27m), whilst the number of urgent referrals to crisis care has increased by a fifth (19%) since the beginning of the year.
Many people have sought solace from nature during this period, which was chosen as the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week earlier this year. Being outside in green spaces can have a powerful effect on our health and wellbeing, not only in providing calm in times of stress, but also in increasing our creativity and empathy with others. For example, ecotherapy, a type of treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature, has been proven to help with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
However, not everyone is able to easily connect with nature, and city dwellers in particular may not have access to green spaces nearby. Around 13% of UK households don’t have access to a garden, making it harder for some to tap into the benefits that spending time in nature can provide. This ties in with the theme of the World Federation for Mental Health’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th, which is ‘Mental health in an Unequal World.’ The aim of the day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and the impact inequalities can have.
More support availableFortunately, there is much greater awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health than there has been previously, and a growing range of support services to help those who may be struggling.
However, mental health problems can not only be emotionally and physically debilitating, but can place a real strain on your finances if you’re unable to work.
Protection policies can provide much needed financial support should you suffer from a mental ill-health. For example, income protection can replace lost income if you can’t work, and some critical illness polices, which provide a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness during the term of your policy, will also provide a payout for conditions such as psychosis and bi-polar disorders.
Many protection policies don’t only provide financial support at a difficult time. There are plenty of plans which now come with added benefits that can be used to support you if you need help looking after your mental health. These can include counselling as well assistance with referrals. Often these benefits are not only available to the policyholder but also to the whole family, enabling you to gain much needed support and guidance if you feel they may be struggling with your diagnosis.
Always be upfrontIf you’re considering taking out a protection policy, make sure you disclose any mental health issues you might have had in the past, or that you’re currently experiencing.
If you aren’t upfront with your insurer, there’s a risk that this could invalidate your cover, and mean any claims relating to the condition you haven’t declared will be refused. Protection providers will ask you about your mental health when you apply for cover and aim to be sensitive and respectful when doing so.
Disclosing that you have a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to pay higher premiums for protection. Providers will often give immediate and standard terms on many cases where you’ve disclosed a mental health issue, and cases will always be individually assessed before a quote is given. According to Scottish Widows, it has been able to offer cover to 95% of customers with pre-existing mental health conditions, with 85% of applicants getting cover at standard rates.
For more advice and guidance on the most suitable policy and provider for you and your family, get in touch with one of our protection experts today.