Your mental health is an important part of your wellbeing! And, it can affect your physical health - ever lost your appetite when you were anxious or felt your heart beat faster when you were nervous? We asked the 1Life Insurance experts how and why your mental health can affect your insurance and why taking care of your mental health is so important.
Mental health conditions are health conditions
Just as your physical body can become ill, for example with diabetes or high blood pressure, so your mental health can suffer, for example depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes genetics can play a role, for example, if depression runs in your family you may have a higher than average chance of suffering from depression. Or you may become depressed or anxious because of specific circumstances. For example, 2023 has been very stressful, with the higher cost of living and loadshedding. Or, you may have stress at home or work that affects your mental health.
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Mental health conditions are illnesses, just like diabetes or high blood pressure. They are not a sign of weakness or a reflection on your personality or abilities, and they are definitely not “all in the mind!” Mental health conditions can affect anyone at any time.
Importantly, mental health conditions can be treated and managed, sometimes with therapy, medication and other treatments.
Mental health conditions must be disclosed to your insurer
Because they are health conditions, mental health conditions, whether you have recovered or are managing the condition and undergoing treatment, must be disclosed to your insurer as they can affect your cover and premiums. Just as you would disclose a physical health condition such as diabetes on an application, so too must you disclose mental health conditions, diagnoses and treatments. The questions on the application forms will guide you through this step.
Having a mental health condition doesn’t mean you won’t get cover. Underwriters look at your case and take into account what type of condition you have, when and what treatment was prescribed and the outcome. For example, if you were hospitalised for depression years ago and have had no further hospital stays and are managing any recurrences, your life cover application should be successful.
If, however, the condition is serious you may pay a higher premium for cover, and in the most severe cases be declined cover. For example, if you have unmanaged schizophrenia, cannot work and need around the clock care, you are unlikely to qualify for life cover.
In addition, all 1Life life insurance policies have a 2-year exclusion on claims where the cause of death is suicide.
Mental health conditions can also affect disability policies and income protection policies where mental health conditions may be excluded.
Get help and follow treatment
There are many services and healthcare professionals available to help you manage your mental health. Chat to your GP, or you can find a counsellor or free support group, such as those listed on the South African Depression and Anxiety Group website. If you are on a medical aid, they will also have a list of resources you can access.
You should follow treatment as prescribed, whether your mental health condition is a once off or chronic condition.
Don’t wait if you need help
Mental health conditions are not always identified early on and many delay seeking professional care. Don’t wait to get help. Act today if you need support. Your first step to taking control of your mental health is to get the help you need!