COVID-19: Bupa welcomes new mental health response plan

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Bupa says it welcomes the federal government's 'Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan' that is designed to support people whose mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $48.1 million plan is focused on enabling early and effective action, reaching vulnerable groups and connecting people to care.

Bupa’s head of public health, Dr Zoe Wainer, said the insurer supports initiatives that help people access timely and appropriate support in their time of need.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to Australia’s mental health and resilience and the ripple-effect will be felt long into the future.

“To play our part in this critical time, Bupa will continue to work closely with government bodies, medical and community associations along with providers to ensure mental health support is accessible and affordable,” said Dr Wainer.

Bupa said it also welcomes the appointment of Dr Ruth Vine as deputy chief medical officer for mental health.

The insurer said it has introduced a number of initiatives to support the mental health of its customers during the pandemic.

This includes a project with Kids Helpline to provide COVID-19 virtual support programs to primary schools, 

It said psychology has been identified as the second most common customer telehealth claim since it began funding services delivered over the telephone on 25 March. 

Bupa was also the first provider to fund Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses with a 100 per cent rebate upon course completion. The internet-based program delivered through 'This Way Up' recently received a 2020 Canstar Innovation Excellence Award in recognition of its ability to break down time and cost barriers to accessing essential mental healthcare.

Customers who are concerned about the mental health of their children also have access to the 'Bupa Mental Health Navigation Service'. It is available 24/7 to provide guidance on clinical services. The 'Bupa’s Visits by Mail' initiative helps connect seniors to the broader community while adhering to important physical distancing requirements.

“In recent times, the health care and the industry has demonstrated significant adaptability and flexibility in terms of how mental health support is delivered. By boosting capabilities across provider, community and technological levels, Australians have more options and access to help than ever before.

“We encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental state-of-mind to consult a GP or qualified health professional who can provide intervention options. Mental health is just as important as physical health,” added Dr Wainer.