Your Mind Matters: Improving Your Wellbeing Through Health Insurance
The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us. Financially, emotionally or physically – after several months of lockdown restrictions, we’re all feeling the strain one way or another.
For many, the uncertainty, isolation and disruption caused by the pandemic has had a serious impact on mental health. Mental illness is on the rise across Ireland, with high levels of anxiety and depression; but with many public services being simultaneously overwhelmed and limited as the nation fights against coronavirus, accessing care isn’t always easy.
There are numerous steps you can take at home to improve your self-care – such as exercising regularly, meditating, and ensuring you stay connected with friends and family remotely. However, as lockdown continues, many of us are increasingly looking for extra help and guidance to maintain our mental wellbeing through a very difficult time.
All three of Ireland’s health insurance providers offer a range of benefits and services to support their members’ physical and mental wellbeing. We explore what they are and how they can help.
First of all, it’s important to acknowledge how you’re feeling and know there’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, many of us will need some level of mental health support in our lifetime, and there are multiple options and methods available. Some are likely to appeal to you more than others, so it’s helpful to understand all of your options to select the care and benefits that best suit your preferences.
Speaking to someone about how you’re feeling can be highly effective in helping you work through any issues and identify potential solutions. It might sound uncomfortable opening up to a stranger, but professional counsellors provide a safe, judgement-free space for you to voice your thoughts and – crucially – be heard.
Vhi, Laya and Irish Life Health all provide 24/7 access to confidential counselling over the phone for all their members. You can reach out to discuss anything from mental health difficulties to financial or legal issues, and may be referred to a specialist for further support – depending on your needs and, in some cases, your policy entitlement.
For example, Laya also offers five face-to-face counselling sessions on certain applicable schemes, while Irish Life cover six sessions through their ‘Health Minds’ programme, so be sure to check your policy. While many of these sessions may be conducted remotely during the pandemic, some face-to-face appointments are still being offered on a case-by-case basis.
You can find further details on the services available, including contact details, below:
Meditation and Mindfulness
In addition to treatments and counselling services, some insurers will offer additional benefits to continuously support your wellbeing. Through Laya, for example, you may be referred for meditation sessions following a phone consultation. These can help to declutter your thoughts and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Some popular meditation and mindfulness apps, such as Headspace and Calm, have also proven effective in helping many people to reduce stress, sleep better, and maintain a healthy mind. Through Vhi, members can get a €30 discount on annual subscriptions to these services. Irish Life also offer a €30 contribution to meditation support devices and mindfulness app subscriptions through their ‘Mind Extra’ plan, available on the 4D range.
Irish Life Health offer a number of free resources to help you care for and understand your mental health. With access to in-person appointments somewhat restricted by the pandemic, these resources could be invaluable in helping you maintain your wellbeing.
Some of these resources are free and available to all, regardless of whether you’re a member of Irish Life or not. For example, their Couch Counsellor series is available on YouTube, offering professional advice to make lockdown easier on your mental health.
Other benefits are restricted to members, such as their LifeWorks App. This tool provides advice on a range of topics and practical steps to improve your wellbeing. LifeWorks also includes a mental health assessment to help you understand your specific personal challenges, and what actions you can take to combat them.
Irish Life also offer a comprehensive range of benefits under their ‘Mind Extra’ plan – including contributions towards stress reduction and self-compassion programmes, positive mental health training and life coaching.
It’s widely acknowledged that improving your physical health through exercise and a healthy diet can help to improve your mental wellbeing. But with gyms closed, exercise restricted, and the ever-present temptation to comfort eat, staying healthy at home can be challenging.
There are a few different ways your health insurance can support you to live a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Keeping to a healthy diet, that isn’t overly restrictive or punishing, can have an often surprisingly positive impact on your mental wellbeing. That doesn’t mean denying yourself the food you enjoy – it simply means knowing when to treat yourself, and when to stick to healthier choices.
Of course, the diet that works for you and your mental health is very personal. To help you make the right choices, Laya offer access to a dedicated Healthcoach for all members over the age of 18. In addition to access to the Healthcoach app and an online health assessment, you can also get a tailored fitness, nutrition and wellbeing programme.
Laya’s mental wellbeing benefits also include money back on dietician consultations. Similarly, Vhi provide access to expert dietitians and nutritionists over the phone to help you achieve and maintain optimal body health. There are multiple options through the three different providers, depending on your plan – so if nutrition and fitness is a priority for you, get in touch with our experts for free guidance on the best plan for you.
With a healthy diet comes a more active lifestyle. Regular exercise can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety – but we know it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself when you’re feeling low. Even just going for a short walk can help you reset, and having a flexible but structured fitness plan in place can help you exercise little and often so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
Irish Life’s MyLife app is helping to encourage members to live healthier – and, until 8th Feb 2021, you can get a Fitbit Charge 4 for only €109 when you register for MyLife. Check out the full details and download the app here.
There are also many benefits available via specific plans across all three providers, such as physiotherapy, discounts on gym memberships, yoga and Pilates classes, and money back on strength and conditioning. Many of these plans are aimed at people doing a lot of sport – so if that’s you, or you’d like it to be, be sure to explore your options with one of our health insurance experts.
Make the Most of Your Plan
Health insurance doesn’t come cheap – so make the most of the benefits you’re paying for! Many people are unaware of exactly what they’re entitled to, often only looking at their health insurance when they need hospital treatment or other medical care.
Your health insurance is there for living, not just for illness. That’s why it’s so important you find the right policy for your unique – and changing – needs. If mental health was never really a consideration for you before, it may be more of a priority in the current climate: so be sure to review all your options before renewing your existing policy.
Our health insurance experts are offering advice and guidance to anyone in Ireland. Whether you’re looking to renew or change providers, sign up for health insurance for the very first time, or simply understand what benefits you’re entitled to and how to access them, we’re here to help.
Just fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch!