The number of customers using MLC Life Insurance’s Best Doctors’ Mental Health Navigator service has almost doubled since the start of COVID-19, as people seek mental health support during the pandemic.
In the last four months, 21% of current cases registered sought an expert opinion for a mental health condition, an increase of 11% from 2019.
Around 76% of customers who had severe or extremely severe symptoms of depression at their first appointment experienced a reduction to mild or normal levels after just three months of using the service, while 65% had their diagnosis modified and 87% had a modification in their treatment.
Sean Williamson, chief group insurance officer, MLC Life Insurance, said there had been a huge demand for mental health services since the beginning of the pandemic as many Australians struggle to cope with emotional and financial pressures.
“Worryingly, we know that 54% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment, and this is worsened by delayed treatment due to serious problems in detection and accurate diagnosis,” Williamson said.
The service had helped prevent employee absence from work, as even though 50% of all participants are off work due to their symptoms, 40% of those return to by the three-month follow up.
Dr Benson Riddle, chief medical officer at Best Doctors, said many people felt overwhelmed about how and where to seek help for mental ill-health.
“The evidence shows that problems in detection and accurate diagnosis can lead to delayed or incorrect treatment, thereby worsening the condition in the long term,” Riddle said.
“Finding the right support earlier through services like Mental Health Navigator is therefore paramount.”
Mental Health Navigator was a confidential, specialist mental health services available to MLC customers and members, including those of its business partners.