More Filipinos are prioritizing their mental health as they became more aware of their overall well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study commissioned by an insurance company.
A study by the Economist Impact, commissioned by Pru Life UK, showed that the attention of Asians, including Filipinos, to mental health as part of having healthier lifestyles is “on the rise.”
“Emotional and mental health have risen to second spot on people’s priority list and cited as the top way to improve our behaviors is spending more time with family,” Gillian Parker, Principal and Sustainability Lead for APAC Policy and Insights of Economist Impact said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
However, the study indicated that Asians seem to “lack” awareness about the “risk” of chronic diseases.
“Experts say popular awareness of the benefits of healthier lifestyles—including attention to mental health—is on the rise, but also warn of a lack of awareness about the risk of chronic diseases,” Parker said.
Pru Life UK Executive Vice President & Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Allan M. Tumbaga said it is “not worrisome” that Filipinos are more aware of mental health than of chronic diseases.
Tumbaga said Filipinos have long been aware of the risks of chronic diseases, noting that “it has always been there.”
“Noncommunicable diseases have always been there and people are aware. It just so happened that mental health became the focus because of the pandemic,” he told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of the launch of Pru Life UK’s commissioned study.
“So it just became very pronounced during the pandemic. It’s good that we become more sensitive to this,” he added.
Tumbaga noted that the heightened awareness on mental health provides an opportunity for insurers like Pru Life UK to consider developing a product that would address the Filipinos’ growing life needs.
“Of course we are always considering a specific product for such cases. We would always plan to be able to provide for all our customers,” he said.
Pru Life UK Vice President for Government Relations and ESG Maricel Estavillo admitted that mental health remains a “barrier” to insurance and financial inclusion.
“So that’s why it’s a topic that we’re very much invested in. It’s one of our priority advocacy topics,” Estavillo said.
“Because when you talk about like a suicidal person, for example, that’s really hard to cover, it’s hard to protect by an insurance product because even though we are able to issue a policy to a person suffering from a mental health disease, you will have a problem when it comes to claims,” she added.
Estavillo said insurance products cannot “really cover” mental health illnesses, noting that “prevention” is the “best way” to address such health issues.
Tumbaga said digital technology, such as the use of apps, can help insurers in providing more information to their clientele about mental health.
The Economist Impact study showed that 75 percent of Filipinos are using mobile apps like free health and fitness apps, in managing their health and well-being. The study noted that the most popular health apps for Filipinos were step trackers, women’s health apps, calorie counters, pulse and heart-rate monitors, doctor consultation services and blood pressure monitors.
The Philippine study also revealed that free health and fitness apps were popular among Filipinos. Notably, one-third of respondents indicated that the increased availability of mobile health apps would motivate them to engage in healthier activities.