Many people carry suicide notes in their pockets, silently screaming for help.
Medical programs have flagged rising mental illness claims as a concern, leading several plans to announce improvements to their mental health programs.
Bonitas noted a 25% increase in the number of admissions to mental health hospitals.
This is particularly high in the 18 to 44 age groups. Mental health was also a major reason for absenteeism in corporate groups.
According to Bonitas, factors such as increased economic burden and increased psychosocial challenges such as load shedding have worsened mental health problems.
Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, chief clinical officer at Discovery Health, said the incidence of mental health problems among members of the Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) had increased from 11.3% in 2018 to 13.5% in 2022.
Depression is the condition that affects the majority (60%) of members (mostly young adult female members) diagnosed with a mental health condition.
The prevalence of depression increased from 6.3% in 2018 to 8.1% in 2022 and increased steadily in the years before this period.
Depression also accounts for 57% of direct program spending on mental health services.
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Discovery Life data shows that in 2022, the business is experiencing 13% higher suicide claims compared to the 2019-2021 period and 24% higher than the 2016-2018 period.
Discovery Life data also showed a 149% increase in suicide cases in people under the age of 30 when comparing 2019 and 2021 with 2022.
Women are 1.8 times more likely than men to claim Income Maintenance Benefit for mental health-related reasons. However, suicide-related life insurance claims are 2.2 times more likely to occur in men than in women.
Due to increased awareness of mental health issues, Bonitas announced that it is including the Bonitas Mental Health Program in all its plans for 2024 and is including depression as a chronic condition.
Bonitas also offers access to Panda, a digital platform available through the Bonitas app, giving members easy access to expert help, mental health information and community support.
In 2019, DHMS launched a Mental Health Program that promotes structured mental health screening and treatment.
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Online mental health assessment will now be available to all DHMS members through the new Discovery Health app.
Once completed, assessment results and clinical data are used to assess the member’s mental health risks and provide risk-supported intervention to members at risk for depression.
Discovery announced its partnership with digital behavioral health and well-being platform SilverCloud® by Amwell®. Prescribed by a GP, psychologist or psychiatrist, the new digital mental health aid provides members with access to internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT), funded from the Programme’s risk pool; in other words, it doesn’t consume your daily savings benefits.