JOHANNESBURG- With World Mental Health Awareness day on October 10, the increasingly common occurrence of deaths related to mental illness - not only locally but on a global scale - means that the topic of depression, also called the disease of loneliness, remains high on news agendas. Often depression, along with other mental illnesses, is swept under the rug or ignored because of the stigma attached to it. But, as it becomes more widespread and talked about, it becomes harder to ignore its impact - not only on holistic wellbeing but on one’s ability to earn an income.

Locally, figures show that psychiatric disorders are on the increase for disability claims, accounting for 7% of the average payout ratio for Old Mutual’s 2017 Greenlight cover compared to 6% in 2016.

“Mental illnesses are impacting people’s ability to function in their jobs,” said Kerissa Naidoo, a senior medical officer at Old Mutual. She said that due to the stigma associated with mental illness, people tended to internalise their difficulties and suffer in silence.

Disability cover should be considered as part of a holistic financial plan as it can provide peace of mind that you will be covered if you become unable to work as a result of a mental illness.

When analysing the figures, Naidoo said that in 2017 Old Mutual paid out 96% of all disability income claims. “A disability claim is more likely to be approved on the income benefit simply because, on lump sum, the insurer would need to establish that your disability is permanent before you can claim.

"On income, you will be paid from the point you are deemed unable to work as a result of your condition, while permanence is still being assessed,” explained Naidoo. 

Supplied