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Pandemic doubles customer uptake of MLCs Mental Health Navigator

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MLC Life Insurance says the number of customers using its Mental Health Navigator service has almost doubled since the onset of COVID-19.

More than 200 MLC Life Insurance customers have now used the Best Doctors’ Mental Health Navigator, a confidential, specialist mental health service that is available online to MLC customers and their families at no cost.

The partnership between Best Doctors and MLC is in its 11th year. Customers receive assessments conducted by mental health specialists, such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

Sean Williamson, Chief Group Insurance Officer, MLC Life Insurance, said many Australians were struggling to cope with emotional and financial pressures. He says 54% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment, an issue exacerbated by “serious problems” in detection and accurate diagnosis.

“We want to help customers better manage and treat their condition … and offer them a tangible solution to help them improve their mental health. This is what Mental Health Navigator provides,” Mr Williamson said.

MLC says 76% of customers who had severe or extremely severe symptoms of depression at their first appointment experienced a reduction after just three months of using the service and most had a modification in their treatment.

The service is helping to prevent employee absences, with 40% returning to full time or part time work by their three-month follow up.

Mr Williamson says there is a strong likelihood that a recessionary environment will trigger an increase in claims, particularly mental health, and services like the Navigator may ultimately reduce the extent of this.

In 2019, the life insurance industry paid out more than $750 million to around 6,800 people experiencing mental ill-health.