Whatever the time of the year, a rising number of mental illness related claims in the national data, which we are also seeing at ANZ, demonstrate Australians are increasingly seeking support to recover.
" At this moment, three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression."
Along with the broader sector, ANZ has invested in a number of initiatives working with health professionals to identify how we can offer a better service to customers impacted by mental illness.
These are the first steps in an ongoing journey which will hopefully redefine our role as an insurer as we seek to strengthen our relationships with customers and empower them to live their best life.
Not too long ago society did its best not to acknowledge mental illness, hiding it behind the closed doors of the family home or even the tall walls of institutions on the outskirts of town.
Its history of being overlooked, misunderstood or burdened with stigma (and stigma’s partner shame) continues to be the experience for many Australians today.
There is fortunately a growing recognition mental health is everyone’s concern. At this moment, three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression. That’s the person next to you on the bus, in your office, or at your dinner table. Perhaps it’s even you.
While the current ‘wellness’ movement may have introduced sweaty room yoga and an avocado hysteria, it has also emphasised a valid connection between mental and physical health - valuing each with equal measure.
With our increased awareness and acceptance of mental illness, Australians are in turn seeking out professional services to help achieve their best possible mental health. The average annual increase in the number of Medicare-subsidised mental health-related services provided between 2011-12 and 2015-16 was 7.6 per cent. In 2015-16, this totalled 2.3 million Australians.
In the insurance sector mental illness related claims have similarly risen since the global financial crisis. Over the past 12 months, approximately 11 per cent of total claims paid at ANZ were due to a mental illness.
Customers are also spending longer on claim and this has broader implications for their recovery. For example, the likelihood of a person returning to work drops from 70 per cent at 20 days, to just 35 per cent by 70 days.
Rising claims and longer claim periods all lead to rising costs for policyholders collectively.