Aetna has recently launched its new Hong Kong health insurance company, in order to tap into the region’s aging population. However, the organisation has also sought to provide further support in promoting mental health wellness in the territory.
Working with Mind HK, the company will undertake an essential study of the current perceptions around people who suffer from mental illness in Hong Kong, in conjunction with the Hong Kong University, King’s College London, as well as London-based non-profit, Time to Change UK.
“One in six people in Hong Kong at any one time have a diagnosable mental health problem. The problem is likely a lot bigger than that, as it’s still very much taboo to discuss mental health and emotional issues here,” explained Dr Hannah Reidy, Chief Executive Officer of Mind HK.
“I’m hopeful that when Hong Kong catches on that the solution to mental health is to start talking about it, it will make it easier for people to ask for help when they need it.”
Aetna and Mind HK will also work to introduce to Hong Kong best practices from places that have spent more time trying to improve mental health care on a population basis – countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.
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The Mental Health Foundation’s report ‘Fundamental Facts about Mental Health 2016,’ has highlighted that in the UK in particular, the percentage of people with common mental health problems receiving treatment in 2000, 2007 and 2014 has risen steadily, from 23.1% in 2000, to 37.3% in 2014.
Better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion a year, as in 2015, employees in the UK took 138.7mn working days due to illness.
Aetna’s award-winning Summit health plans for employers will therefore provide a built-in Employee Assistance Programme in Hong Kong – at no additional cost – to enable companies to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.
Aetna members will also gain access to confidential counselling from behavioural health experts in 180 countries worldwide; by phone call, email, web and even chat messaging via an app.
“As we work to raise awareness for mental health issues, we’re also equally focused on developing solutions for people who need help,” says Kevin Jones, Chief Executive of Aetna Insurance (Hong Kong) Limited.
“We’re looking into ways to drive early intervention – things like enhancing primary care offerings and using technology to make access to help more widely and easily available.”