Preparing for COVID-19’s mental health ripple effect


Bupa, Australia’s largest health insurer, has welcomed the launch of the Federal Government’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan aimed at helping Australians whose mental health and wellbeing has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement represents a significant step forward in addressing serious mental health issues such as fear, anxiety, loneliness, financial and family stress through investments into research, vulnerable group outreach, connecting mental health services and communications.

Bupa’s Head of Public Health, Dr Zoe Wainer, said Bupa supports initiatives that help people access timely and appropriate support in their time of need.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to Australia’s mental health and resilience and the ripple-effect will be felt long into the future.

“To play our part in this critical time, Bupa will continue to work closely with government bodies, medical and community associations along with providers to ensure mental health support is accessible and affordable,” Dr Wainer said.

Bupa also welcomes the appointment of Dr Ruth Vine as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health and the announcement of additional funding for research aimed at improving mental health care and reducing suicide rates in Australia.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has developed, Bupa has introduced a number of initiatives which extend across different life-stages to support the mental health of its customers.

This includes working with our community partner Kids Helpline to offer specific COVID-19 support programs to primary schools, delivered virtually by qualified counsellors to help students with coping strategies during this challenging time.

Psychology has been identified as the second most common telehealth claim for Bupa since it began funding services delivered over the telephone on March 25. As social distancing restrictions eased across Australia in May, Bupa continues to fund both telehealth and face to face services.

Bupa is also the first provider to fund Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses with a guaranteed 100 per cent rebate upon course completion. The internet-based program delivered through This Way Up recently received a 2020 Canstar Innovation Excellence Award in recognition of its ability to break down time and cost barriers to accessing essential mental healthcare.

Customers who are concerned about the mental wellbeing of their children also have access to the Bupa Mental Health Navigation Service which is available 24/7 to provide guidance on clinical services.

For senior members of our community, Bupa’s Visits by Mail initiative helps connect elderly residents to the broader community while adhering to important physical distancing requirements.

“In recent times, the health care and the industry has demonstrated significant adaptability and flexibility in terms of how mental health support is delivered. By boosting capabilities across provider, community and technological levels, Australians have more options and access to help than ever before.

“We encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental state-of-mind to consult a GP or qualified health professional who can provide intervention options. Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Dr Wainer said.

Media reference number: 20/060