INSURER Old Mutual says locally, figures from its Claims Statistics Report 2020 show a 9 percent rise in mental health-related claims under Disability Income cover, continuing an alarming three-year upward trajectory.
Approximately 76 percent of these claims were for major depression, with most of the claimants, 65 percent between 30 and 50 years old.
Despite a global spotlight on the importance of mental health, Old Mutual said the connection between mental health and disability was still widely misunderstood in South Africa.
“Many of us don’t look at mental health conditions as a potential cause of disability,” said Dr Kerissa Naidoo, the chief medical officer at Old Mutual, “but as those who have battled with it know, it can be debilitating and may leave you unable to deal with the demands of each day, let alone perform at your job. In this way, coping with mental health conditions can affect your ability to earn an income.
“While this data may not link directly to the pandemic, it is evident that Covid-19 has caused severe emotional and financial stress for many people, whether due to infections, the loss of a loved one, reduced income or unemployment.”
Old Mutual said financial stress had been further demonstrated by the results of the Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor 2021, where 47 percent of 26 to 40-year-old respondents said they were wedged in the sandwich generation, meaning they were financially responsible for both their children and parents. More worryingly, one in three working adults claimed only to have funds to last one month or less should they lose their current income or job.