Aviva has recently launched a new mental health option, which means support will now be available to the employees of large companies and organisations for all kinds of addiction, including gaming, online gambling, and social media addictions.
Aviva’s corporate mental health cover, which was introduced last year, now includes Mental Health Pathways Plus, extending its coverage to include tech addictions. With the extension, options available for cover now include any addiction condition. This move is said to be in response to growing evidence that the constant use of smartphones enables easy, 24/7 access to online gambling, and this is resulting in some people exhibiting new addictive behaviour.
The health cover introduced last year also included drug and alcohol addiction, in response to research that shows alcohol addiction costing UK businesses over £6 billion a year in terms of lost productivity. Aviva Medical Director Dr. Doug Wright has warned that addictions can significantly affect a person’s mental well-being and negatively impact their home and work life.
“While there’s no doubt that digital technology offers many benefits, it’s also driving behaviours which could increase people’s health risks,” Dr. Wright said. “Previously, addictions have mainly been associated with drugs and alcohol, but now the Internet and smartphone apps are leading to technology-driven addictions such as online gaming and sensation-seeking entertainment as well as preoccupation with social media. We have responded by broadening our mental health cover to ensure businesses can opt to extend their support for employees affected by these emerging addictions.”
The health cover is available through Aviva’s Optimum private medical insurance scheme for organisations and companies with at least 250 employees. Children aged 13 years old and above who are covered by their parent’s policy also have the opportunity to access mental health support services as part of this coverage extension.
This comes amid increasing concern about the potentially negative impact of social media on young people’s self-image, as well as the increasingly easy access to mobile gaming apps. For their part, NHS England is set to open its first gambling clinic for children and young people aged between 13 and 25 this summer. It will focus on tackling what it sees as a growing problem owing to online gaming sites.
In addition, Mental Health Pathways Plus has removed clauses that govern some chronic mental health conditions. This removal is aimed at improving assessment, monitoring, and treatment for persons diagnosed with long-term mental illnesses. It also opens up access to a huge network of 2,200 clinicians who can provide their services without any need for a GP referral. Furthermore, the removal of the clauses gives individuals the opportunity to be assessed by a mental health practitioner within 48 hours.
Treatment options that have been made available with the removal of the governing clauses include online cognitive behavioural therapy, face-to-face therapies, remote sessions by video link or phone, and in-patient treatment where necessary. These extended services will focus in helping to keep employees in their respective workplaces wherever possible, and to support them when they’re off work so they can return sooner, rather than later.