Mental connection Richard J. Read  

One of South Africa’s oldest companies has picked up a very worrying trend

In today’s economic landscape, the challenges faced by people with mental health issues such as depression have only been exacerbated by remote working, school disruptions, rising unemployment and social isolation.

Despite a global spotlight on the importance of mental health, Old Mutual says the link between mental health and disability is still largely poorly understood in South Africa.

“Many of us don’t see mental health issues as a potential cause of disability,” said Dr Kerissa Naidoo, Old Mutual’s chief medical officer, but as those who have battled it know, this can be debilitating and can leave you unable to cope with the demands of each day, let alone get your job done. In this way, dealing with mental health issues can affect your ability to earn an income. “

Locally, figures from the Old Mutual 2020 Statistical Claims Report show a 9% increase in mental health claims for disability coverage, continuing an alarming three-year upward trajectory. 76% of these complaints relate to major depression.

In addition, the majority of applicants (65%) are between 30 and 50 years old.

“While this data may not be directly related to the pandemic, it is evident that Covid-19 has caused severe emotional and financial stress to many people, whether due to infections, loss of loved one, with reduced income or unemployment. “

This financial stress is further demonstrated by the results of the Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor 2021, where 47% of respondents between the ages of 26 and 40 say they are stuck in the sandwich generation, meaning they are financially responsible at the time. both of their children and of their children. parents.

More worryingly, one in three working adults say they only have funds for a month or less if they lose their current income or job.

“Significant emotional and financial stresses can exacerbate long-term illnesses,” Naidoo said. “Yet, due to the stigma associated with mental illness, people tend to internalize their struggle rather than asking for help. Unfortunately, the longer they suffer alone, the more serious and potentially fatal these diseases can become.

“For South Africans struggling with long-term illness due to mental illness, disability insurance can be crucial financial aid for long-term recovery and well-being. “

Income or lump sum coverage?

While Old Mutual saw a 25% increase in disability claims and a 27% decrease in lump sum claims in 2020, Naidoo said it made sense to couple income protection with ‘invalidity with flat-rate cover. Everyone plays an important role in helping you treat or recover from an illness or injury.

Income coverage helps you replace any income lost due to the inability to work. Flat-rate coverage helps you meet the large and unforeseen costs associated with permanent disability.

“By choosing both a disability income and a lump sum, you can be sure that the income that you cannot earn while you are away to recuperate will be replaced and that you will have the financial support you have.” need to pay for major expenses that may result in permanent disability.

“In the same way that you take small but essential and useful steps to maintain your mental and physical health, it is important to apply this thinking to your financial health. By working with a licensed financial advisor and having disability insurance in place, you are taking an important step towards better long-term financial health.

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