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Bupa launches new mental health campaign as UK adults put off seeking help

Bupa UK has unveiled the second phase of its ‘Is It Normal?’ brand campaign, which focuses on mental health after months of distress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign asks ‘what is normal now?’, aiming to normalise seeking support for mental health by offering reassurance that everyone has their own version of what is ‘normal’.

Research by Bupa UK found that 82 per cent of adults experienced at least one symptom of poor mental health during lockdown yet just one in 20 (5%) sought help from a medical professional. Meanwhile four in ten (44%) told no one that they were struggling – twice 2019 rates.

New mental health issues have developed as a result of the pandemic, and existing mental health problems have been exacerbated, yet one in five adults with a condition (19%) plan to hold off seeking help until things are ‘back to normal’.

Bupa UK’s own customer data shows that while demand for its mental health self-referral service, Mental Health Direct Access, has increased 31 per cent since the start of the year, during the peak of lockdown those seeking help almost halved with many worried about visiting a clinic or hospital in person.

In response, Bupa UK has expanded its range of remote services available to its insurance customers with ‘Bupa From Home’, helping customers stay in control of their physical and mental health from the comfort of their home with quick, convenient access to nurses, doctors and mental health therapists, removing any barriers or fears that may be caused by visiting a hospital or clinic in person.

As the effects of lockdown continue to be felt, Bupa aims to tackle the ongoing mental health stigma as it’s feared the knock-on impact on mental health will be felt for years to come with health professionals expecting a rise in people reporting mental health difficulties3. Early diagnosis is proven to significantly improve outcomes, so the campaign is urging those facing mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic or from other aspects of life, not to delay and seek help as soon as possible.

David Hynam, CEO, Bupa Global & UK commented: “The toll of the pandemic on mental health has been high, and as a healthcare provider we must continue to think long term to address the impact on the nation’s mental health.

“All too often people don’t know where to turn, what help is available to them or how to access it. One of the biggest issues in mental health is people not getting help early enough. Early diagnosis is proven to significantly improve outcomes and we really encourage people to seek help at the right time.

“As the country gets to grips with the new reality we are living in, it has never been clearer that there is no one type of ‘normal’ when it comes to mental health. Making mental health support and information accessible to everyone is essential.”

The ad is the latest phase of Bupa’s ‘Is It Normal’ campaign, which launched in January to tackle the unnecessary stigma around mental health, while encouraging people to seek support and expert advice for themselves and those close to them. The need for mental health support has never been greater, and the campaign asks ‘what is normal now?’, challenging perceptions of what is considered to be normal.

To ensure mental health resources are accessible to everyone, Bupa has enhanced its free Mental Health Hub. The platform includes practical resources and advice from resident mental health experts for those looking for guidance and support on topics spanning from children’s and family mental health to sleep disorders.

The campaign follows recent developments in Bupa UK’s mental health services for its health insurance customers, including cover for more conditions, ongoing support for longer term conditions and further support to families who are worried about their child’s mental wellbeing through the Family Mental HealthLine. Fast access to support is also available through Bupa’s Mental Health Direct Access service, which allows health insurance customers to speak to a specialist without needing a GP referral. And for those wanting to speak with a GP, Bupa offers access to video GP appointments usually within two hours through its new Digital GP app in partnership with Babylon. Further mental health enhancements are planned for the year ahead.

As part of its ongoing work to run and fund projects that have a positive impact on mental health, the Bupa Foundation has awarded over £300k in grants to more than 40 local charities across the UK and Ireland to help vulnerable people most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.