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Five ways to support client mental health

Published date: 12/05/2023

From preventative support to quick and easy access to treatment when it’s needed, advisers are perfectly placed to ensure the mental health of clients is fully covered, writes Greg Levine.

The widespread challenges of the last few years, including the pandemic and ongoing cost-of-living crisis have taken a toll on the nation’s mental health. At the same time, unprecedented demand on the NHS means that those needing treatment are facing longer waiting lists and delays in accessing therapy.


We’ve also seen attitudes towards mental health shift radically in recent years. As times have changed, the industry has moved with it. Private medical insurance (PMI) products have not only evolved to provide better access to certain mental health treatments by disregarding medical underwriting, but also to help prevent a claim from occurring in the first place.

“Since the removal of underwriting and medical exclusions for mental health, we’ve seen a 60% increase in monthly Talking Therapies claims”

- Greg Levine, Chief Operations and Growth Officer, Vitality
All this has meant that mental health is a subject that can no longer be ignored by advisers. With anxiety the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (15 - 21 May), here are five ways you can support the mental health of your clients.

1. Normalise the conversation

It’s almost inevitable that advisers will need to talk to clients about sensitive subjects. This might be when discussing their past medical history or if a claim needs to be made, perhaps if a diagnosis occurs. It’s therefore crucial that clients are treated in a way that feels human and appropriate to their needs. Being open and understanding around the subject of mental health is a soft skill that can not only help put a client at ease when sharing personal information, it can also help them feel like they have an adviser who genuinely cares.

2. Provide peace of mind

Delays in accessing the right support and treatment can often exacerbate mental health issues and lead to a deterioration of someone’s condition. With concerns around waiting lists and access to care likely to be top of people’s minds at the moment, having PMI in place can provide real peace of mind.


From helping to alleviate the anxiety of waiting and hoping for a positive outcome, to the possibility of being forced out of work and the associated money worries that brings, health insurance can ensure clients have one less thing to worry about. They’ll also have quick and easy access to the right care.

3. Access to Talking Therapies

We know that Talking Therapies – such as counselling and CBT - can provide significant benefits in the treatment of mental health, but that access to services isn’t always easy. For PMI applicants, they also face the possibility that their past medical history could lead to exclusions.


That’s why at Vitality, in 2022, we became the first (and only) insurer in the UK to offer all our members access to in-network Talking Therapies, without medical underwriting on our Core Cover. This means members can get up to eight Talking Therapy sessions – which account for 80% of mental health claims1 – each year, regardless of their medical history.


Since the removal of underwriting and underwriting exclusions for mental health, we’ve seen a 59% increase in monthly Talking Therapies claims - and a fivefold increase since 2015. Over this period, claims for more intensive in-patient and day-patient treatment have remained stable, demonstrating the important role these services are playing in catering for growing mental health demand. They're highly effective too. Between 2019 – 2021, just 1.2% of members who used Talking Therapies required further treatment within three months.1

4. Help keep clients happy and healthy

PMI plans are expanding and placing an ever-greater focus on the prevention of illness, through a range of benefits and tools to help keep people in good health. This applies as much to mental health as it does a range of other common conditions.


It’s widely accepted for example that physical activity is good for our mental health. Whether that’s to relieve stress, release endorphins or just help us feel good about ourselves. On top of that, it can improve sleep quality and boost cognitive skills too2, helping us to plan and function better. Then there’s the social benefits of activities like Park Run. As well as these more subtle benefits to your clients’ wellbeing, physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and help with anxiety.3


However, encouraging people to get more physically active can be a challenge. That’s where a structured rewards programme linked to insurance can do the trick, especially if it involves incentives based on behavioural economics that are proven to improve outcomes. After all, a more engaged client tends to be a healthier one, as our member data shows.3

5. Introduce them to mindfulness

There are two main barriers holding clients back from engaging in practices that preserve their mental health, such as mindfulness and meditation. Firstly, it can be difficult for them to know where to start. Secondly, they might not realise how effective it really is. According to a 2018 study by Oxford University, one month of online mindfulness practice, on average, significantly reduced anxiety, stress and depression4 - by as much as 57%. In addition, getting started can be made easier through apps like Headspacewhich teach mindfulness and offer guided meditation. Especially if they are made available through plans and clients are incentivised to use them.

Where to next?

  • It's official! The UK is grappling with a productivity crisis

    With the recent Spring Budget putting productivity into the spotlight, organisations need to be putting more focus on workplace wellbeing – not less – writes Pippa Andrews, Director of Corporate Business, Vitality.

  • Five things PMI can do that your client might not know about

    Whether it’s helping clients access preventative support, primary care and diagnostics, or delivering more integrated end-to-end healthcare to drive better outcomes and deliver value from day one, PMI is expanding.

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1 Vitality Health Claims Insights Report 2022
2 Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: A meta-analysis of prospective studies, F Sofi, Jan 2011
3 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report
4 On average, a 58% reduction in anxiety, a 40% reduction in stress levels and 57% reduction in depression. University of Oxford, 2018