AIA grant to help tradies dealing with mental health problems

The recipients of the AIA Vitality Business and Community Grant, Mike Taylor and Ryan Edwards have created Tools Down to raise awareness of the mental health problems faced and the suicide rates of New Zealand tradies.  Tools Down is described as an introductory source that connects those struggling with specialist organisations across the country. Taylor has said that Tools Down hopes that by educating people about the help and support available they can encourage people to take control of their wellbeing.  

“Tools Down was started by Mike Taylor and Ryan Edwards, thanks to a $50,000 AIA Vitality Business and Community Grant, to shed a light on the topic rarely spoken about in the industry.

Ryan Edwards is managing director at The Adviser Platform and a Tools Down co-founder and has seen many tradies struggling with their mental health, and has worked with some of them to help alleviate financial and work pressures.

“The last decade has seen more than 300 tradies take their own lives," Edwards says.

"Not only is this a devastating number but it has a knock-on effect to roughly 1.5 million Kiwis who are affected by these tragic deaths or serious harm incidents."

“That’s why we’ve made it our mission to halve the number of suicides, serious injuries and harm experienced by tradies each year, by 2025.”

Managing partner at BBT Digital and Tools Down co-founder Mike Taylor recognises this is a lofty goal but is determined to achieve it.

“I’m a big believer in setting big, aggressive goals. By aiming to make a considerable impact, even if you fall slightly short, we’re still closer than if we set a smaller target.

“Our hope is that by educating people about the help and support available out there it can encourage people to take control of their wellbeing.

"With good education comes good prevention, this is where we’re hoping to encourage the conversation,” says Taylor.

Edwards says there are specific struggles a tradie faces that can take an overwhelming toll on mental health.

“You may wake up one morning and find your ute broken into and all your tools stolen or suffer a work injury that takes you off the tools.

"How do you deal with those lost assets and time on top of everything else? It can be the tipping point for some tradies," he says.

“Through Tools Down, people have approached us to discuss their hardships and need for valuable resources to coach them through times of stress. This is exactly what Tools Down is for and we’re glad people are using it.”

Tools Down is an introductory source for those who reach out via the platform, offering partnerships with specialist organisations across the country best placed to support those who seek help.

“Without the support of AIA Vitality, we wouldn’t have been able to get this platform off the ground," Edwards says.” Click here to read more

In other news

FMA: Annual Corporate Plan 2021/22


Implications of mental health on insurance, and more daily news

In his piece Dr. Chris Ball credits information being released by some insurers for the spike in media coverage of mental health issues. Insurer publications imply that mental health issues have reached epidemic levels. The article questions the credibility of the claims highlighting the increase in antidepressant prescription rates while citing a study that found the growth of adult mental illness to be minimal. With the increased rates of mental health issues being credited to demographic changes. The article highlights that the American Psychiatric Association view on mental health causes an issue with insurance companies. Insurers depending on medical models to frame products means applicants will need their mental health issue labelled in the early stage of their application process so that underwriters have a simplified way of assessing circumstances. Dr. Ball notes that the medical studies insurers refer to are usually not representative meaning that the assessment is unfair for applicants. Dr. Ball indicates that mental health issues requires a deep contextual understanding.

“Mental health has become a big topic of discussion in the media. Headlines describing mental health problems at epidemic levels are common - and many come from “research” cited by insurers. We know antidepressant prescription rates have doubled in high income countries over the millennium, to the extent that over 10% of the population in the U. S. and Australia take these drugs. So, is there really an epidemic of mental illness?

Toshi Furukawa, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Kyoto, upbraided popular writers for “touting such sensational words like ‘epidemic’, ‘plague’ or ‘pandemic’”.1 A systematic review by Richter et al. concluded that the prevalence increase in adult mental illness is actually small and that it was mainly related to demographic changes.2 This is a view supported by Harvey Whiteford, Professor of Population Mental Health at the University of Queensland, who was quoted as saying, “There is no epidemic of mental illness sweeping the world…survey data which has tracked over time shows that the prevalence hasn’t changed - it’s flatlined.”3

DSM-5, the diagnostic manual from the American Psychiatric Association, states, “People are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which have distressing consequences but do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation”. This creates difficulties for the insurance industry, because it largely relies on a medical model to support its products, particularly in Disability Income (DI).

When an episode of psychological distress is disclosed by an insurance applicant, finding the right label for it is always an early step in the assessment process. At one level, a simple solution for the underwriter could be to continue with the medical model and rate for a diagnosis or any small indication of a diagnosis, lumping all psychological distress together.

When an episode of psychological distress is disclosed by an insurance applicant, finding the right label for it is always an early step in the assessment process. At one level, a simple solution for the underwriter could be to continue with the medical model and rate for a diagnosis or any small indication of a diagnosis, lumping all psychological distress together.

However, the outcomes of these disorders are strongly influenced by studies that mostly follow small samples of patients who encountered secondary care services because of the severity of their illness. These groups are rarely representative of the overall population, not adjusted for physical disorders, followed up for relatively short times and subject to publication bias. Including only these patients substantially over-estimates both all-cause mortality and suicide risk.

Clearly, this approach to risk assessment appears unfair to people who have experienced episodes of psychological distress but whose risk is low or the same as the general population. The situation is rather different in DI where mental health claims are common and perceived as prolonged and difficult to manage. Where psychological distress is disclosed by the DI applicant, a purely diagnostic approach proves a weak discriminator of risk. Exclusions are not well understood by consumers nor easy to enforce at claim stage.

The management of any episode of psychological distress in clinical practice is not just a matter of diagnosis but requires understanding in a much broader context. The individual’s experiences are important, but the history, personality, resources, social setting and the nature of the circumstances themselves must be grasped. Using this bio-psycho-social model helps to understand why one person experiences significant distress (possibly illness) in a set of circumstances, whilst another manages perfectly well.” Click here to read more

In other news

Partners Life: Partners Life Academy guide  

From Insurance Business Mag: 5G rollout will lead to new cyber risks - report

From GenRe: PFAS and Microplastics - The Next “Toxic Torts” on the Horizon?


Suicide rates: coroner's report and international comparison

In short: lockdown is not causing an increase in suicide rates - in fact deaths from all causes are down - but we do have a problem. 

The coroner recently released their report on suicide rates for the past year. The media release can be found at this link: https://coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/Chief-Coroner-Suicide-Stats-2020-Media-Release.pdf,  the full report at this one: https://coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/2020-Annual-Provisional-Suicide-Statistics.pdf

I commend to you the full report. In spite of the current years' figures being a decrease on the prior year, the trend-line remains upwards over several years. Ethnic breakdowns of the rates are worth reviewing. Maori rates of suicide are highest, but this is followed by European rates, then Asian, then Pacific people. Male rates of suicide are 2.5 to 3 times the rates for females. 

To provide context, the chart below (with thanks to Ourworldindata.org) shows the rate per 100,000 of population, from 2000 to 2016, with some selected countries and groups of countries for comparison. It is the comparison with the UK that strikes me in particular. The chart is interactive. Feel free to change countries and explore. 


Product database updated

The latest version of the QPR database (V135) has been distributed to subscribers and uploaded onto Quotemonster. This version includes the following changes:

  • New Cigna personal policy wording effective 11/05/2020
    • Minor rating change to:
    • Trauma - cancer definition, child trauma option amount score
    • Life - terminal illness definition
  • Remediation to:
    • Partners Life's Mental Health Limitation (in IP)
  • Term cover policy 02/18 now rated in Westpac Mortgage Protection

Daily news update: Cigna price changes introduced, and more stories

Cigna has made price changes to a number of products. The range of the changes are detailed in the table below. You can tell from the variety of changes that this is a complete repricing exercise - not merely an increase or decrease of a blanket percentage. Some prices will be much more competitive. Some segments are being increased. The only way to know for certain, is to do a comparison for each life. That's why a price comparison across the market is vital if you wish to offer help to clients seeking the most competitive products. Quotemonster still offers free price comparisons for financial advisers with an FSP number and an email account. 

YRT Life

11/05/2020

From -12% to +8%

Level Life

11/05/2020

From -24% to +1% Non-Smokers & Female Smokers, from -17% to +8% Male Smokers

Trauma

11/05/2020

From -13% to +10% Non-Smokers & -3% to +15% Smokers

Level Trauma

11/05/2020

From -16% to +10% Non-Smokers, -16% to +18% Smokers

Income Protection

11/05/2020

From -1% to -2%

Mortgage Protection

11/05/2020

From + 5% to +25% Female, from +7% to +20% Male. As per discussion, indexation was previously offered free for the first year.

In other news:

AIA: Mentemia, a mental wellbeing app, is now part of the AIA Vitality program.

AIA: Clients can get one month’s premium free when they apply for a new eligible AIA policy between 5 March 2020 and 31 May 2020 and have the policy issued by 31 July 2020.

Partners Life: The automatic COVID-19 Mental Health exclusion that was applied to disability and business risk benefits has been replaced with more targeted and specific underwriting processes.

Partners Life: Clients who had the automatic mental health exclusion applied will have it replaced with an emergent mental health exclusion.

Partners Life: Underwriting restrictions 2020


Latest news including: AIA Vitality updates

AIA has been helping clients stay active during the lockdown. AIA has modified how customers can earn points.

"With AIA Vitality at home, members can:

  • Earn up to 50 Points per day with online workouts: led by AIA Vitality Ambassadors Ian Jones, Laura Henshaw, Chris & Bec Judd and Sarah Piotrowski
  • Enjoy a 30 day free trial, plus 10% subscription discount, with Les Mills On Demand: gaining access to 13 fitness programs and over 800 of the world's best workouts
  • Track their activity with a new device: with 25% off across the Fitbit online store, in addition to 25% off on selected Garmin devices
  • Refresh their workout wardrobe with 40% off New Balance footwear and apparel: with a unique, single-use code available on purchases until 30 May 2020"

In other news:

FSC: FSC Connect: A mission to healthier lives with NZ rugby legend, Ian Jones

AIA: Healthy Ad Break

nib Australia: Shareholder Announcements

OUT NOW: ASSET May issue

Newpark: NewPark_Demo_Overview

Now is not the time to shut up about suicide

Many covid deaths in care homes are unrecorded


Accuro launches free mental health aid

Press release from Accuro:

Accuro launches free mental health solution for more than 15,000 members

12 September 2019, Wellington

Easy and quick access to mental health diagnosis and support has been added to the range of services that Kiwis can call on from Accuro Health Insurance.

About 47% of New Zealanders will experience a mental illness and/or addiction at some time in their lives, with one in five people affected in any one year*.

“For many, issues such as depression or anxiety really affect their lives. Yet a lot of people don’t seek help or have issues with their treatment plan.” says Geoff Annals, CEO of Accuro Health Insurance, a not-for-profit health insurer based in Wellington. “The Government announced significant mental health funding this year, yet access to specialists can still be very limited, with long wait times, and can also be very expensive,”

“So Accuro is launching Mental Health Navigator in partnership with Best Doctors. First launched in Canada in 2016, Mental Health Navigator has since launched in Australia and will soon be available in Europe. Accuro members are amongst the first New Zealanders to have access to this service. Mental Health Navigator is completely free for Accuro members to use alongside their specialist insurance cover, which includes a $500 benefit towards further consultations with NZ registered psychologists and psychiatrists, should follow up be required.

The Mental Health Navigator is now available, for everyone covered by an Accuro Specialist Plan, aged 18+. It’s designed to break down barriers by providing fast, comprehensive and confidential access to a team of mental health professionals. A call to the Mental Health Navigator number will be answered by a specialist mental health nurse and followed up within 10-14 days by a video call with specialist psychologists and psychiatrists. This team can diagnose mental health conditions, develop a treatment plan, or act as a valuable second opinion. The mental health nurse then provides follow up support over the next 6-12 months.

“Fast access to diagnosis and treatment is an important part of people getting better before they get worse, and with typical wait times of two to six months through the public system, we feel access within two weeks can make a dramatic difference to a person’s wellbeing,” says Geoff Annals. “Mental Health Navigator is free, and people can access the service without having to leave their own home, an important detail for members who might be fearful of hospital appointments, or have trouble travelling to them.”

“This is the first time such a quick, easy and professional mental health support service has been available to New Zealanders through health insurance. The Accuro Mental Health Navigator joins Best Doctors, SkinVision, our wellbeing Health Hub and bowel cancer screening kits as active benefits that Accuro offers its members in supporting their health before they might need to call us. We call it Active Insurance,” adds Geoff Annals.

ENDS


Voices of Hope

Voices of Hope had a stand at the FSC Conference this week and we thought it was a good idea to spread the word about the great work they are doing.

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The mission of Voices of Hope is to provide hope for those struggling with mental health issues by promoting mental well-being, empowerment and recovery. You can check out their website here.

If you would like to make a donation you can do so on their Givealittle page here.

 


Australia: Mental illness claims for under 25's skyrocket

AIA Australia has stated that mental illness is now the biggest claim cause for TPD for clients under age 25. Predominantly for professional and white-collar workers, who are over twice as likely as their blue-collar peers.

"For young Australians from 2013 to 2017, 20 per cent of births were to a mother under 25, and more than 10 per cent to fathers under 25. More than two-thirds of households are also headed up by a person under 25 with debt, with a quarter of under 25s classified as ‘over-indebted’, meaning they have debt worth at least 75 per cent of their assets.”

Click here to read more.