We all hear about mental health and the impacts it has on society. We know that the impacts of mental health have been increasing for many years but predicting who will be impacted by mental health including when is still complex to predict.
Predicting mental health and what causes it has been a complex task for doctors to understand. So, can it be predicted?
How is mental health trending?
If we look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics data over a seven-year period between 2011-12 and 2017-18, we can see an increase of almost two million people who have been impacted by mental health (2011-12 3 million people1, 20145-15 4 million people2, 2017-18 4.8 million people3).
The Government and many organisations, AIA Australia included, have looked at developing and providing services that help Australians monitor and manage their mental health. With many of these services readily available, the hope is that we can help reduce the impacts of this illness. Unfortunately, as the above figures show, mental health continues to increase and impact many Australians annually.
What causes mental illness?
Experts in the field of mental health are still trying to understand what causes mental illness4. There is no one cause of mental illness and we all experience things differently, however some factors include:
- Genetics – while the mental health of a family member does not predispose someone else to having a mental health illness, it can be factored in
- Drug and alcohol abuse – this can trigger episodes such as bipolar or psychosis
- Other biological factors – medical conditions or hormonal changes
- Early life environment – negative childhood experiences
- Trauma and stress – these can include to social isolation, domestic violence and financial stressors
- Personality factors – some traits such as low self-esteem can increase risk of depression or anxiety4
Predicting mental health
While there are studies being conducted showing that it is becoming possible to forecast the onset of mental health issues, such as depression with greater accuracy, there is still work to be done5.
As of March 2020, a government commissioned report into mental health in 2030, mentioned that “it is impossible to accurately predict a picture of Australia in 2030, meaning that services must be able to adapt and change in response to future need”. While the report does mention there are certain assumptions that can be made to create a picture of Australia’s mental health in ten years’ time, it is important to realise that there are many factors that may alter this.
Understanding the complexity of predicting mental health is important
As an industry we are constantly grappling with many health factors including mental health. We know that it impacts the price of insurance, and while the industry aims to price products, accordingly, being able to predict how our decisions today with product and pricing will be impacted in two years, five years and so on, is a difficult task.
As noted earlier, while there are assumptions that can be made for the future, these can be altered based on various factors. The pricing structure of a policy factors in future assumptions, however this can alter. When a client is assessed without a mental health condition, though in five years’ time has a life altering event occur, so too does the outlook of claims paid.
What are we doing as a business?
While we constantly monitor the various trends, not just mental health, but all other health factors, as a business we also look at various ways we can help reduce the impacts of these trends. Through services such as AIA Vitality and engaging with such services as Mindstar and our Rehabilitation teams and many more, we provide extra support for clients to help manage their health and get back to wellness. Whether it be physical health or mental health, we have a service that can help support your clients.
If you would like to discuss our additional services, please contact your AIA Australia Client Development Manager or Associate and find out more.