Mental health: Insurers need to keep up with the times

The campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues during World Mental Health Day last October was effective, as Singaporeans are now not just more aware of the importance of mental health and illnesses, but also understand better the struggles and problems that people who suffer from mental illnesses face (More seeking help amid push to raise mental health awareness; Oct 15, 2018).

However, I would like to address how most insurance companies do not allow people who are diagnosed with mental health problems to claim for their hospitalisation bills.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 15. And like anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness in Singapore, I was denied hospitalisation insurance.

From an insurance underwriter's point of view, people who have a mental health condition, even if a doctor has certified that the condition is under control, are seen as ticking time bombs.

According to them, such people are potentially unable to take care of themselves properly, thus leading to poor eating habits, poor health, alcoholism and other such problems.

Being unable to apply for private hospitalisation insurance just because of a previous record of mental illness only strengthens the stigma as people with mental health conditions are seen as second-class citizens who are unable to take care of themselves or be functional members of society.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is employability.

Employers similarly view those who have a record of mental illness as ticking time bombs too. Almost all the people I know with a record of a mental illness, myself included, choose not to disclose their mental health history during job interviews because they know that they will be rejected because of it.

Employers have to be educated and know that just because one suffers from mental health problems does not mean that he cannot contribute to the company just like any other employee.

With the increase in cases of mental health illnesses worldwide, Singapore's insurance industry and employers have to keep up with the times.

Lim Yufan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Mental health: Insurers need to keep up with the times'. Print Edition | Subscribe