RedArc, the nurse-led health and wellbeing service, is bracing itself for a busy Q1 as analysis of 2023 referral data highlights that there were 42% more new mental health cases when compared to the average for the rest of the year. This also correlates with 34% more nurse activities to support mental health in Q1, and 30% more courses of therapy being sourced and arranged for mental health conditions.
Anxiety, stress and panic disorders were the conditions needing the most support, followed by general mental health issues, and then depression and mood disorders.
These referrals highlight that although 15 January has the, possibly, dubious accolade of Blue Monday, all three months in Q1 might be blue for some. With debt concerns, poor weather, less daylight, failing New Year’s resolutions, and motivational levels at a low, the entire winter period is a struggle for many and can trigger a deterioration in mental health.
With this in mind, insurers, advisers and employers need to ensure that support is available from clinically trained professionals to safeguard the mental health of individuals. RedArc warns that there is a fine line between seasonal anxiety and stress, and the emergence of a mental health condition. Some individuals will instinctively put self-help mechanisms in place to help them through this period but others may find it hard to cope and need professional support.
Christine Husbands, commercial director, RedArc said: “A lot gets written about whether Blue Monday is just a self-fulfilling prophecy, but our data shows that the January Blues is not just a fallacy. Many issues can come to the fore in the darker, winter months, which, for some, can be too much to cope with.”
Comprehensive mental support is required
RedArc believes that no matter where an insurer, adviser or employer stands on the issue of Blue Monday itself, they have a duty to offer comprehensive mental health support to the many people who look to them for help at this time of year.
To ensure the most appropriate support is offered, it is vital to start any support programme with a clinical assessment from a trained mental health practitioner which will usually include the use of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ9) and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD7) to fully assess the individual and to provide a benchmark for further assessment at a later date.
This assessment will also enable support to be tailored to the individual as personalised support is vital in achieving long-term improvement in mental health conditions. It also means that outcomes can be measured.
Support for specific groups
RedArc also highlights that particular groups may need extra support at this time, including those with additional needs (i.e. people with physical health issues, the neurodiverse) and the vulnerable. Those who support others with mental health conditions are also sometimes more susceptible to mental health deterioration at this time of year too.
Christine Husbands concluded: “Both the support itself and the communication of that support need to be ramped up during January and beyond. Whilst most people who feel low will improve without external help, it is impossible to single out those who will develop longer term anxiety or depression, so offering comprehensive support to everyone possible is a must.”