UnumProvident is urging IFAs to raise awareness of mental ill-health among their clients, following research which reveals over 10 million working days were lost as a result of stress, depression and anxiety in 2005/06.
The Mental health and the UK economy report, commissioned by UnumProvident and carried out by Oxford Economics, reveals mental ill-health costs the economy £10bn a year and the annual growth rate for mental and behavioural disorder claims is 5.4%, compared with the 0.8% growth in overall incapacity benefit claims.
In addition, the report estimates over 10 million working days were lost as a result of stress, depression and anxiety in 2005/06.
Peter Barnett, head of external affairs at UnumProvident, believes IFAs need to convince their clients that mental illness could happen to them and without income protection (IP) they are effectively on their own.
He says the NHS tends to concentrate its resources on physical diseases and more acute clinical mental disorders, and services helping people suffering from stress, anxiety or depression return to work are lacking.
Barnett states: “It is a fact that mental ill-health is the biggest cause of people falling out of work, but I don’t think IFAs are aware of this issue. If consumers and IFAs were more aware, they could discuss mental health issues during the fact find, rather than just talking about the client’s physical health.”
The report reveals that on an age-related basis, the largest group of incapacity benefit claimants are those aged 55-59 years, while regional findings show the highest levels of claimants are in Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
The industry with the highest level of mental health-related illness is the public administration, education and health sector, while the industry with the lowest level is construction.
Dr Peter Dewis, customer care director of UnumProvident, adds: “Thousands of sufferers face stigma in the workplace and many psychological barriers to working. However, often a relatively small investment in the support of individual sufferers at an early stage in their illness may help them recover, remain at work or regain employment, saving them and their families from hardship.
“We therefore strongly support any government initiatives to extend the opportunities and independence that employment brings to sufferers of mental ill-health.”
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