“Without mental health, there can be no true physical health” – Dr Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Dr Brock Chisholm, psychiatrist, medical practitioner, World War I veteran, and the first director-general of the World Health Organization, asserted that mental and physical health are linked. Over half a century, we continue to find even more evidence highlighting the impact mental illnesses — particularly stress, depression and anxiety — can have on physical health. 

For many of us, stress increases during holiday seasons due to demands on our time,  finances, emotions, relationships and traditional obligations.

Some statistics that our team at WellsFaber have read show that approximately a third of South Africans will suffer from a mental health condition in their lifetime, which affects their capacity to maintain relationships and a job. To thrive in our wealthspace, we must have healthy conversations about mental health.

One of the first steps in dealing with mental health issues is quashing ill-informed and negative attitudes. We can do this by raising awareness of the facts to better understand the problems that so many of us face.

Being diagnosed with a mental health condition can be unnerving and understandably comes with questions regarding treatments and long-term prognosis, as well as what will be covered by medical plans.

However, the Director of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) notes that “individuals accessing mental health and psychiatric services are frequently uninformed, not only about what services are offered, but also about what to expect from mental health and psychiatric professionals. Mental health and psychiatric patients often complain that they haven’t been told their diagnosis, what the medication they have been prescribed is for, or what to expect from the medication. “

Although some medical aid providers have tried to make changes to their plans, it is still often the case that not all medical conditions are afforded equal consideration. It’s necessary to understand that a psychotic episode can be compared to a heart attack in its unpredictability and debilitating nature. However, psychiatric medications are prescribed less readily than medications for heart disease. Some medical aids only cover 15 outpatient visits each year or three weeks of hospitalisation for patients with mental illnesses.

Costs can become substantial when treating a mental illness, and many patients who have found the proper treatment cannot afford it. Sadly, many people don’t receive the treatment they need for severe disorders. 

Planning for an uncertain future should always include ways to handle mental health treatment. From talking with us to talking with your family, you can spark healthy conversations about mental health – all this is crucial to building a robust and comprehensive financial portfolio.