In the current economic landscape, the challenges for people with existing mental illnesses such as depression are exacerbated by remote working, school disruptions, rising unemployment and social isolation.
Despite a global focus on the importance of mental health, Old Mutual says the link between mental health and disability is still largely misunderstood in South Africa.
“Many of us don’t see mental illness as a possible cause of disability,” said Dr. Kerissa Naidoo, Chief Medical Officer at Old Mutual, however, as those who have struggled with it know, it can weaken and leave you unable to cope with the demands of everyday life let alone do your job. In this way, dealing with mental illness can affect your ability to earn an income. “
At the local level, figures from Old Mutual’s Claims Statistics Report 2020 show a 9% increase in disability insurance claims related to mental health, continuing an alarming three-year upward trend. 76% of these claims 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 distress for many people, whether from infection, the loss of a loved one, loss of income or unemployment.”
This financial stress is also evidenced by the results of the Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor 2021, in which 47% of 26- to 40-year-old respondents say they are wedged in the sandwich generation, meaning they are both for their children as well as being financially responsible are parents.
Even more worrying, one in three working adults says they will only have funds for a month or less if they lose their current income or job.
“Significant emotional and financial stress can make longer-term illness worse,” said Naidoo. “However, because of the stigma associated with mental illness, people tend to internalize their struggle rather than seek help. Unfortunately, the longer you are alone, the more serious and potentially life threatening these diseases can become.
“For South Africans who are ill for a long time due to a mental illness, occupational disability insurance can be a crucial financial aid for long-term recovery and well-being.”
Income or capital coverage?
While Old Mutual saw a 25% increase in disability benefits and a 27% decrease in flat-rate claims in 2020, Naidoo said it made sense to combine disability coverage with flat-rate insurance. Everyone plays an important role in the treatment or recovery from an illness or injury.
Income protection helps you to compensate for loss of income due to incapacity for work. Funding helps you cover the large and unexpected costs associated with permanent disability.
“By opting for the Disability Income and Lump sum, you can rest assured that whatever income you cannot earn during the break will be replaced and that you will have the financial support you need to pay the huge expenses that you have You need a permanent disability that can bring with it. “
“As you are taking small but essential and helpful steps to maintain your mental and physical health, it is important to apply that thinking to your financial health. By contacting an accredited financial advisor and purchasing disability insurance, you are taking a powerful step towards greater long-term financial health. “
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