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ProCare Fresh Minds disappointed, but not surprised by Consumer NZ findings

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tāmaki Makaurau’s primary mental health and wellbeing service, ProCare Fresh Minds, is disappointed by the findings of the Consumer NZ mystery shop of insurance companies, with all health insurance policies looked at, including blanket exclusions for mental illness.

Unfortunately, this does not come as a surprise, as businesses seem slow to pick up the attitude of wider Aotearoa New Zealand in relation to mental health and wellbeing.

Around one in five New Zealanders over the age of 15 are diagnosed with a mood and/or anxiety disorder. COVID-19 has also added pressure to many over the past two years, and increased feelings of isolation.

Tania Wilson, General Manager at ProCare Fresh Minds says: "General Practitioners are an essential first contact for many people experiencing mental health concerns.

"Recent studies have shown that 23% of high school students already screen high enough to see a clinician for depression, further emphasising the importance of destigmatising mental health issues and creating a climate of support in which mental health is an ordinary part of health conversations with your doctor," continues Wilson.

"These outdated, discriminatory clauses that insurance companies are including around mental health exclusions are dangerous and may lead to whānau feeling unsure about being honest with their GP about stress, anxiety, depression, and more, for fear of their comments being included in GP notes and having negative outcomes," concludes Wilson

Bindi Norwell, Group Chief Executive at ProCare says: "One of the first things we encourage people to do when they are experiencing mental health issues is to reach out and speak to someone. The fact that speaking to your GP about these problems could have ramifications and make you ‘high-risk’ when seeking health insurance is extremely concerning.

"With the focus that has been placed on wellbeing across Aotearoa over the last few years, particularly with the Wellbeing Budget in 2021, it is a shame to not see this acceptance across the insurance businesses, where people could find access to these services," concludes Norwell.

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