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Bupa warns baby boomers about the dangers of ‘brushing off’ mental health issues


11th Nov 2019 Health Conditions

Bupa warns baby boomers about the dangers of ‘brushing off’ mental health issues

A recent report by leading private health insurer Bupa has found that the baby boomer generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 – appears to be neglecting psychological wellbeing to the detriment of mental health.

They may be described as being wealthier, more active and more physically fit than the generations that went before. But when it comes to the way they feel, behave and exist emotionally, it seems they’re happy to stay decades behind.

A problem that shouldn’t be ignored?

In reality, they’re actually in a high-risk group when it comes to mental health issues.

Figures show that around two thirds suffer from symptoms with anxiousness, continuous low mood, feelings of hopelessness and insomnia. All of which can have minor effects on daily life and work, which can become major ones if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Older isn’t necessarily wiser

Interestingly enough, the group of people surveyed, aged 55 seem to behave differently from younger generations. They’re less likely to gauge things like stress and depression as problems and don’t feel as comfortable talking about mental health.

Many keep problems entirely bottled up. One in four (27%) tell no one about these symptoms, with fewer confiding in a partner or friend than younger generations and less than half consulting a doctor1.

The generation gap is also evident when it comes to what’s going on. Less than one in three over 55s feel confident in recognising the symptoms of conditions like depression and anxiety, compared to nearly half of 18-34 year olds and even those who do seek help delay by over 50 days on average.2

It appears the boomers really don’t like making a big noise about something that’s so important to their wellbeing.

Why they feel unable to act 

Lack of action stems from a lack of awareness that the symptoms could indicate a mental health problem. One in five (22%) think their symptoms ‘don’t indicate anything serious’ and others say mental health simply ‘doesn’t affect me’.

Despite mental health awareness improving in general, only one in three baby boomers feels their knowledge has increased in the last year. This is due to a lack of targeted materials, with three in 10 agree that mental health information is more aimed at younger people.

Early action improves outcomes

These issues can be headed off by those north of 55 if they seek help as soon as symptoms come calling. 

That’s why Bupa’s urging people to come forward early when it comes to dealing with mental health problems. It’s just as important as physical health and starting the conversation early – whether it’s with family, friends or mental wellbeing practitioners – can make a huge difference to getting things back to normal.

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, says: “It’s clear to see that awareness of mental health issues is improving, but more needs to be done to address information gaps to ensure that everyone feels confident in recognising and seeking help for a mental health concern.

“Mental health issues can affect us at any age and it’s important to seek support without delay, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve recovery rates. If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to seek medical help. Bupa’s Mental Health Direct Access offers fast access to a specialist without the need for a GP referral.”

How Bupa can help

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

In order to do this for mental health as well as the physical variety, they offer comprehensive support that puts them heads above all other leading UK insurers;with Bupa By You health insurance that covers more mental health conditions and for longer. That’s in addition to their nationwide network of clinical resources for physical problems.

Reader offer: 10% off* Bupa health insurance, plus two months’ free^cover

To help more people access Bupa’s support to keep body and mind in the best shape, they’re offering 10% off* health cover plus two months’ free insurance.^ Find out more by calling 0808 301 1813 or visiting https://www.bupa.co.uk/readers-digest for your exclusive Reader’s Digest subscriber’s quote.

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Research conducted among 2,152 UK adults by Opinium Research, 19-22 March 2019.

1.84% of 18-34-year olds tell at least one person about their symptoms. 43% tell a partner and 50% tell a friend, compared to 33% and 28% respectively for over 55s

2.31% of over 55s said they were fully aware of depression and 26% are fully aware of anxiety, compared to 46% and 46% respectively for 18-34s

As of May 2019, based on internally conducted research of the consumer health insurance market. Refers to standard mental health cover when this is included in the selected health cover product.

* Applies to eligible Reader's Digest members on quotes for new Bupa By You policies. Discounts will be reviewed on 10/09/2020 and any changes will apply to renewals and new quotes thereafter. Quotes are valid for 14 days. T&Cs apply

^For new Bupa By You health insurance policies quoted and started between 10/09/19 and 08/10/19. Applied in months 11 and 12 of the first year of your cover. Quotes valid for 14 days. T&Cs apply.

Reader's Digest introduces Bupa health insurance. Bupa health insurance is provided by Bupa Insurance Limited. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Arranged and administered by Bupa Insurance Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.