Following a Royal Commission in which the insurance industry’s approach to mental health came under fire, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has called on insurers to “urgently” address discrimination against those with past mental health issues.
APS chief executive, Frances Mirabelli, said that it was “disturbing” that people seeking insurance were often denied cover or had claims refused because of past help for mental health, or were hit with significant increases to the cost of policies on that basis.
While community understanding of mental health had improved, Mirabelli slammed the industry for maintaining these “stigma-laden policies”.
“Taking proactive action to get help when you are struggling actually works to prevent more serious problems in the future. This must be encouraged,” she said.
Mirabelli pointed out that evidence-based psychological help could often protect people from future mental illness, boosting resilience and providing management strategies, and also that setting up a Mental Health Plan did not mean the plan was necessarily used or that a particular mental illness was diagnosed.
The APS urged the industry to consider that experiencing isolated episodes of mental illness did not mean a consumer was high risk from an insurance perspective.