Wesleyan has found that mental health was the single biggest reason for income protection claims in 2021, with 28% of all respondents citing it as the primary factor behind their claim.
Within the healthcare profession, hospital doctors and GPs recorded the highest number of mental health claims. 39% of claims from hospital doctors were because of mental health issues, while 38% of GPs also cited mental health as the primary reason for their claim.
Long hours and physically and emotionally exhausting workloads throughout the pandemic contributed to widespread burnout and a knock-on impact on the mental health of a large number of health care professionals.
Alec Collie, Head of Medical at Wesleyan Financial Services, said: “It is alarming that mental health tops the reasons for income protection claims. Recent figures show that 58% of doctors are currently suffering from symptoms of depression, stress or anxiety and many are expected to leave their positions this year as a result of their mental health.*
“Leaving the profession not only leaves doctors on a severely reduced income in retirement but also puts additional pressure on remaining NHS staff to pick up the slack and adds to the problem of staff shortages and long patient waiting times.
“The NHS sick pay policy offers full pay for up to six months.** Income protection insurance pays you a regular income if you can't work because of sickness or disability and continues until you return to paid work or retire. It is vital that we take urgent action to support our customers and make clear the support options available to them.”
Last year, Wesleyan announced a £1m mutual support package for front-line critical workers, which included £50,000 to fund additional support for mental health challenges. Since the onset of the pandemic, Wesleyan has also donated over £100,000 to charities that offer mental health support to doctors and dentists, many of whom are struggling with its impacts.
How Wesleyan can help
Former NHS consultant Dr. Richard was forced to take time off work due to illness and mental health issues and used his income protection plan to secure his pay – a step that ensured he could seek out the right support.
During his claim process, Wesleyan supported Dr. Richard with additional support and rehabilitation. This included counselling which enabled him to reflect on his career and gave him the opportunity to step back from his clinical role with the NHS and transition into health technology, something close to his heart.
Dr. Richard said: “From the very first phone call to receiving payment, Wesleyan was with me every step of the way.
“But it’s not just about the financial support my plan gave me at such a difficult time, it’s the care and support I received during my claim – that’s what made the difference and helped me to get back on my feet.”
* British Medical Journal (BMJ)
** Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust