Bupa has launched what it says is the most ‘extensive’ mental health private medical cover available for businesses and their employees.
From April 1, employees on the Business Mental Health Advantage policy will have access to cover for all mental health conditions and support to manage their long-term mental health needs.
The policy includes cover for depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, as well as conditions that are ‘typically excluded’ from cover, such as drugs and alcohol misuse.
Bupa says the policy has been introduced in response to growing demand from businesses for mental health support.
Over the last decade the company has seen the number of employees claiming for mental health treatment double.
It says research from the Thriving at work The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers report shows that poor mental health in the workplace costs employers between £33bn and £42bn a year – or over £1,000 per employee per year.
In addition to covering a broader range of conditions, Bupa says it has removed time limits on treatment so that employees can access treatment if their condition returns.
The policies also provide ongoing support for the monitoring of diagnosed mental health conditions. For example, if an employee’s treatment requires daily medication, they can attend reviews to ensure they are on the most appropriate and cost-effective form of treatment. And, where there is a clinical need, they can access follow-up appointments with a consultant psychiatrist.
Alex Perry, chief executive of Bupa said: ‘Mental health is one of the biggest people issues that businesses – big and small – face today. This launch makes it possible for business leaders to provide better support for their colleagues.
‘We have been at the forefront of supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Our new business mental health advantage offers leading cover and ease of access, and businesses that go with Bupa can be confident that their people can have access to the right support and care when they need it.’
Responding to the launch, Stuart Scullion, chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries said: ‘There are businesses across the UK that want to create a work culture where their employees feel comfortable to start a conversation around mental health. This launch from Bupa puts employee support front and centre, and for the first time, UK businesses can be confident they’re providing their employees with access to first class mental health benefits and service, whenever they need it.’
The government is calling on businesses to provide more support for employees who are struggling with mental health issues – industry figures show that mental health is now the most common reason for work absences, with 70 million working days lost a year as a result.