Protection 

How advisers can raise the subject of mental health

This article is part of
Guide to mental health protection

How advisers can raise the subject of mental health

Mental health issues affect people from all walks of life, whether high-flying executives or low-paid workers in retail; from non-workers and to self-employed individuals.

As a result, says Brett Hill, managing director for The Health Insurance Group, as mental health is such a big issue for individuals and organisations alike, it is "important that advisers help support their clients to ensure they and their employees are fully aware of the support available to them".

From the types of cover available at group and individual level, and the conditions covered, to the range of support services on offer as part of the policy package, it is vital that advisers know the benefits and emphasise these to their clients.

It is also important to flag the 'successes' - the numbers of policyholders who have already been helped - as a way of busting the myths that protection isn't worth it, or that the policy will not pay out.

For example, the infographic from Canada Life Group Insurance, below, shows how more than 1,200 people have been helped by employee care programmes in just three months

However, shockingly, only one person in 20 says their employer is helpful to them when they have raised mental ill health.

Somewhere along the line, the positive messages about support services and the benefits of cover are not getting through to the people who need the most help.

Figure 1: Mental ill-health in the workplace

Source: Canada Life Group Insurance

Emma Wilson, employee benefits consultant at Drewberry, believes communication is mission critical.

She says: "As a minimum, all advisers need to let their employer clients know these additional employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are available and make them aware of the benefits of using them."

In 2015, Drewberry carried out a survey of 1,800 workers. The Wealth & Protection survey found that as many as one in six people had to take time off work due to mental health problems. This was the joint top reason for needing to take time off, along with back pain.

Ms Wilson adds: "An employee who has access to a valuable helpline to counter stress in their life may be less likely to take sickness leave from work due to that stress."

Too much information?

For Alan Lakey, founder of CI Expert, one of the biggest problems is that people do not tend to read the information that comes with their policy or HR information packs.

"Whether it's group or individual, a major problem is getting plan-holders to read the brochures. There must be thousands of plan-holders who fail to claim or take advantage of additional services", he says.

"This is partially their fault", he adds, "which is because of apathy - but it is also down to the length of the brochures and the lack of Plain English descriptions within them.