Sara Docherty – Senior Marketing Consultant
1 in 4*. You’ve probably heard the stat – the number of people in the UK who’ll experience a mental health problem at any one time. That could be your friend, your partner, your colleague… you?
But can you honestly say a quarter of the people you know are struggling with their mental health? I can count on one hand the number of people I know who’ve openly told me they are. But I’m not questioning the statistic, simply highlighting that this is something we don’t tend to talk about. I mean, how many of us say anything much more than ‘fine’ or ‘good’ when someone asks how we are?
Recent research undertaken for Royal London reveals 64% of UK adults say they’ve suffered from feelings of stress, anxiety or depression but 35% felt uncomfortable telling their family about their symptoms1.
There’s something very British about not talking about our feelings, maintaining a stiff upper lip. While even Churchill struggled with his ‘black dog’, the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality has endured for decades – and portrayals that touch on his depression, most recently Darkest Hour, are thought by some to undermine his hero status.
But surely it’s a reminder that we’re all only human. If even our world leaders have struggled with their mental health, why are we still not talking about it like we would any other illness? Only by talking about it will we finally break the stigma. That’s why initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week are so important. From 14–20 May the Mental Health Foundation are focusing on how we can tackle stress and improve mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
What can we do to help?
Talk to your friends, your family… your clients. Yes, the mental health conversation can sometimes be a tricky one to have – particularly with your clients – but only by talking about it as we would any other medical condition will we normalise these conversations. And by gaining a fuller picture of your client’s condition, we can offer the best terms available to them as a protection provider.
At Royal London, we offer cover to people with mental health conditions every day. In fact, mental health conditions make up our most common disclosures at application stage, again demonstrating just how commonplace they are. We treat every case individually to ensure the best outcomes for your clients. More often than not, we’re able to offer standard rates. And often no medical evidence is required – we’d much rather pick up the phone and speak to you or your client to understand a medical history, than draw out the process asking for evidence.
It’s so important that we don’t shy away from talking about mental health – whether it’s in a personal or a professional context, the more we open up and talk about these things, the more chance we have of ending the stigma for good.
* Mind.org.uk, statistics and facts about mental health, January 2018
1 Figures from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2103 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28 and 29 September 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).