Mental health in lockdown: Protecting yourself and your finances
The loss of freedom and loss of connection that we’ve all experienced over the last year has, for many people, taken a huge toll on their mental health.
In a study conducted by MIND in June 2020, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown caused more than half of UK adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) to experience a worsening in their mental health.
But there is hope.
A recent shift in societal attitudes towards mental health and the impact it can have on sufferers has meant that there is now an abundance of help available to those that need it.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective ways you can protect your mind during lockdown, and offer guidance on a financial safety net available if you’re unable to work due to poor mental health: income protection.
What is causing the current mental health crisis?
The month of January has long been associated with a drop in people’s mood and energy, and this often boils down to a combination of different factors.
For many, the small number of daylight hours and poor weather is enough to make them feel low, whilst, for others, there is also the underlying feeling that, with Christmas over and summer still months away, there’s just nothing to look forward to.
Unfortunately, this negative feeling has only been intensified by the current circumstances. A third national lockdown has meant that, once again, many people have lost their usual support networks of friends, family, and even colleagues, and there is also the added pressure of possible job losses.
What can you do to help prevent certain mental health issues?
Regardless of the cause, if you find yourself struggling to keep your head above the water when it comes to your mental health, there are some simple changes that you can make to your daily routine to help.
1 – Physical exercise
It may seem strange, but exercise is actually prescribed as a treatment for a range of conditions, and depression is one of them. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that people with mild to moderate depression take part in about 3 sessions a week, lasting about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When choosing what exercise is right for you, be sure to find something that fits your current physical ability and, more importantly, one that you enjoy!
2 – Reduce your screen time
Ever heard of the phrase ‘doomscrolling’? Coined to describe the act of consuming a large amount of negative news online, it has, unsurprisingly, become a big problem in the last few months.
According to a recent study, an obsessive droomscrolling habit is associated with an increase in anxiety and depression. As difficult as it may be, try limiting your social media and news consumption to once or twice a day and, if you need to fill the gap with something else, opt for listening to music or reading a book.
3 – Introduce mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques
Mindfulness is a technique which involves making a special effort to note what’s happening in your mind, body, and surroundings. Despite being routed in Buddhism and meditation, you do not need to be spiritual to try the various exercises and techniques.
Whilst mindfulness certainly isn’t for everybody, it does help many people to cope with difficult thoughts. If you’re new to the idea, why not try downloading one of the many mindfulness apps to get started?
Finding other ways to protect yourself
When it comes to protecting your mental health, prevention certainly is key, and implementing some or all of the suggestions above is a great place to start.
But what happens when, despite doing all you can to protect your mental health, you find yourself at a particularly low point and unable to work? That’s where income protection comes into its own.
Income protection offers a welcome support for your family if you or your partner are unable to work due to accident or illness, and this includes mental health illnesses too. In fact, many providers are now offering cover for a range of issues, including stress, post-natal depression, ADHD, eating disorders, addictions, ME, fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety.
Due to a sharp rise in people suffering from the likes of depression and anxiety in recent years, mental health has now become one of the biggest claims on income protection (alongside musculoskeletal claims).
As a result, it’s important that, when taking out a new insurance policy, you check what mental health illnesses are covered and whether there are any exclusions in place that might affect you making a claim. Some of the things that insurers consider when offering terms include if you are currently on a particular medication for a pre-existing condition, whether you’ve previously had time off work, and when you last had symptoms.
Choosing an appropriate insurance provider
With so many insurers providing income protection cover for mental health issues, it can be difficult to know which provider to take a policy out with if you are wanting to protect yourself for the future.
To ensure you are getting further value from your policy, we recommend checking what additional mental health support each provider offers in addition to their basic claims. Some of these include support and rehabilitation services, such as counselling and helplines, as well as preventative measures such as rewards systems.
One such provider is Vitality.
Vitality offer a rewards system that encourages policy holders to improve their physical and mental health. By doing things like staying active, tracking their health, and doing mindful activities, policy holders can earn Vitality points. These can then be put towards various rewards, ranging from hot drinks and cinema tickets, to TV subscriptions and discounted holidays.
If you think you would benefit from a Vitality plan or income protection in general, reach out to a specialist broker who will be able to discuss your individual circumstances. As market experts, they know exactly what value-added services are included in the different policies and will find one that’s most appropriate for you.
About Way More Solutions
Here at Way More, our goal is simple; to help you get way more from your life and health insurance.
We understand that finding the most appropriate insurance for your unique circumstances can be difficult, which is why we go the extra mile to get the most suitable terms possible for you.
For further advice on choosing life insurance cover or an income protection policy that puts you first, fill in the form below and one of our experienced, friendly advisers will be in touch…
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