Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit

Turning awareness into action
Thursday 12 March 2020, 99 City Road London

Mental health has come to the fore in recent years, with awareness at an all-time high and conversations happening far and wide - from boardrooms to government departments. On a national level, the discussion has well and truly started, but now, it’s about putting it into action.

For the insurance sector, itself, following the first ever COVER Mental Health Forum in 2019, we have already started to see progress within individual protection, with life insurance providers adapting their underwriting approaches to make propositions more inclusive for those with a history of poor mental health.

Meanwhile, the group risk and employee benefits space has continued to help build mental health support into workplace wellbeing strategies, with early intervention and employee assistance programmes forming the bedrock of group protection policies.

Spurred by conversations at the last event we have decided to increase our scope, incorporating wellbeing and prevention into the narrative. Expect a mixture of views and debates covering a range of topics, including real-life case studies, insurance provider updates and incisive panel discussions that speak directly to the financial advice community as well as employee benefit consultants and in-house HR professionals.

This event seeks to be a true end-to-end conference that covers all of the burning questions that our delegates want answered, as well as providing an opportunity to network with your peers and discuss best practice and ideas for the future.

Join us at the COVER Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit on 12th March 2020 as we tackle turning awareness into action.

Event countdown

This event is working towards the International Standard ISO 20121 and follows guidance set out by the Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA)

Who should attend?

• Protection and Health Insurance Advisers

• Independent Financial Advisers (IFA)

• Employee Benefit Consultants (EBCs)

• Insurance/Protection/Healthcare Professionals

• Mental Health Professionals

• Therapists/Counsellors/Psychologists

• HR Managers/Employers/CEOs


Delegate registration

With networking and refreshments

Chair's welcome and opening remarks

Adam Saville, Editor, COVER

Opening keynote: TBA
Stress and Income Protection

Mental health is one of the biggest causes for a claim on income protection. A lot of this is stress related, with many finding it hard to cope with the pressures of everyday life and work. However, stress affects a lot people, so differentiating between manageable day-to-day stress and extreme stress becomes a far more difficult task, with the former potentially symptomatic of a larger issue. As an industry the products and services provided to those with mental ill health have often not been fit for purpose, with exclusions, caveats and a lack of personalisation when dealing with an individual. What can the industry do to develop further understanding of stress, how can the claims process be improved and when does day-to-day stress become something more sinister?

Back to work - Rehabilitation and support

After a bout of poor mental health, there is nothing more counterproductive than struggling to get back into work. Access to proper rehabilitation that provides the right treatment for the appropriate people, ultimately helping them get back to work quicker. Government calculations have suggested that the economic cost for sickness absence could be as high as £100bn a year, with mental health fast becoming one of the leading conditions cited by employees as the reason for their long-term sickness absence. The need for insurers to provide rehabilitation services that get people back into work has never been more important. So, what are the obstacles and how can we ensure we are offering best-in-class support to policyholders?

Panel discussion: Burnout

A recent survey of 140 companies conducted by Dolan Contractor Group found that almost 90% of workers suffer excessive stress. Mental health in the workplace has become a key focus for a large proportion of UK HR departments, however the underlying problem persists. Our ‘always on’ culture means often our work lives bleed into our personal, leading to a blurring of lines and unclear on and off periods. This is a problem that has surely been around for generations, however it seems to have taken centre-stage in recent years, especially in 2019 when occupational burnout was officially classed as a condition by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this panel discussion, our expert panellists will assess the common causes of burnout, what can be done to help those in need and how finding time to unplug can be hugely beneficial to our mental health.

Chair: Adam Saville, Editor, COVER

Networking break
Charity Partner Insight
Workplace wellbeing at SMEs

New research by AXA PPP healthcare has revealed that over three quarters of small-to-medium (SME) businesses do not have a health and wellbeing strategy in place, with a staggering 67% of their employees also experiencing work-related stress or anxiety. SMEs make up more than half of the UK’s total workforce yet are currently not receiving the same level of support as large enterprises. In this session, our expert speaker will explore the benefits of incorporating a wellbeing strategy into an SME, tackling burnout and adapting a workplace wellbeing initiative that works for your employees.

Getting mental health support right

One of the key takeaways from the COVER Mental Health Forum last year was the need to avoid a tick-box approach to mental health. Latest figures show that stress and poor mental health costs UK businesses between £33bn and £42bn a year through reduced productivity, high turnover and sickness absence, which is why investing in a long-term mental health strategy has been so beneficial for many organisations. However, initiatives like Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) have come under fire recently from professional bodies as well as a plethora of clinical psychological experts and practitioners in the field as issues around the boundaries in place between trainees and staff members, whether the support provided for mental health first aiders is adequate and if the training they receive is enough for the role. In this session, our speaker will consider these concerns and establish what the industry can do to ensure the support provided is being implemented appropriately.

Instigating cultural change in the industry

Developing insurance providers understanding of mental health is a key phase in the journey towards the fair and proper treatment of mental illness. This knowledge needs to be spread out across all functions too, from those on the front-line speaking to clients, all the way up to senior management – a cultural shift is necessary and welcome to ensuring that the correct treatment and policies are put in place on an individual basis. This session will explore where insurers are weak on mental health, what training needs to be given to staff members and how we can enact widespread cultural change on an organisational and industry level.

Networking lunch
Panel discussion: Words matter - Language, underwriting and communication

The language we use plays a big part in peoples understanding and perception of mental health. Communication is key as misunderstanding leads to misdiagnosis meaning that vulnerable clients won’t get the advice or treatment that they need. Mental health underwriting has a huge role to play with this, is the language we use exclusionary and what can be done to ensure we are tailoring our approach to every individual? In this session, our expert panel will consider the role of language in communicating mental health, best in class inclusive underwriting and the role of the underwriter in the assessment of protection.

Andrew Wibberley, Director, Alea Risk
Chair: Adam Saville, Editor, COVER

Talking to your clients about mental health

Broaching a conversation about mental illness can be an extremely difficult thing. However, undoubtedly opening up and being honest about your mental health is an essential first step for many to get the help that they need. Speaking to a financial adviser or mental health underwriter about this can be the catalyst for change needed to receive appropriate protection policies that will ultimately lead to a client’s peace of mind. What can the industry do to make this process easier for our clients and how can you tailor this approach on a case by case basis?

Added-value services within protection policies – a hybrid solution?

There is an ongoing debate about the term ‘added-value services' and whether it truly reflects their importance. Is it really an indicator of the trajectory of protection products going into the new decade, especially considering that some would argue that we are moving towards a more hybridised model for life insurance? One in where the pay-out serves as only one part of the policy, not the overall sum, and preventative and rehabilitative health services should be factored more meaningfully into premiums. This in a time when our NHS is struggling to cope with demand seems to be an inevitable shift for many. In this session our speaker will consider how to build value into protection and what wellbeing services can be utilised for early intervention, thereby reducing claims.

Case study

Hear a powerful personal story of an individual’s struggle with their mental health and how they overcame their obstacles.

Are the kids alright?

At the recent This Can Happen conference, Accenture revealed that according to a recent survey, 92% of young workers in the UK between the ages of 18-30 have been touched by mental health challenges. The survey was conducted with 3884 people and revealed that a staggering 48% said they have experience suicidal thoughts or feelings compared to a comparatively lower 35% older workers. How do we drill down to the root cause of this and what can the industry do to better support our youth?

Panel discussion: Getting to know modern workers – data and personalisation

We are living an age of the multigenerational workers. Managing the gap between five generations of workers, from boomers to Gen Z is no mean feat, especially when it comes to considering their mental health and wellbeing. With such a wide range of lived experience all working together, how can employers offer solutions to their staff that fully take into account the differing needs of their age-diverse workforces? In this panel discussion we will consider how to personalise wellbeing solutions to every age, how you can use data to effectively analyse and therefore personalise, and finally the pitfalls and key considerations to bear in mind.

Panel discussion: Developing a financial wellbeing strategy

Financial stress can be one of the driving causes of poor mental health. 78% of UK employees rely on finance options between pay cheques, with this figure rising to 91% in London. Becoming financially resilient and independent benefit not only an employee’s mental health, but also comes with a whole host of business benefits, such as marked boosts in productivity and engagement. Offering support and guidance and integrating financial wellbeing into the workplace is crucial to achieving this but a strategy must be put in place. This discussion will look at exactly how organisations can go about developing their financial wellbeing strategy, what the key benefits of doing so are, and how to improve employee engagement of personal finance.

Taking addiction seriously

Addiction has long been viewed by many as a selfish disease, often seen as self-imposed and linked intrinsically with hedonism. However, this completely ignores reality – addiction has its roots in poor mental health and is often symptomatic of a larger problem, or a coping mechanism for mental ill health. From drugs and alcohol to sex, gambling and online addiction, there are many releases available that can often lead to dangerous habits. In this session our speaker will consider the impact of addiction on the workplace, why this is an employer’s issue and how to help someone who is suffering from addiction.

Panel discussion: Technology and Innovation – a hope for a healthier future?

Technological advancement over the last decade has revolutionised the health and protection industries, with the likes of automation making the lives of intermediaries easier, machine learning and AI transforming underwriting and the latest technological tools assisting advisers in their day-to-day management of their clients. However, do these developments help or hinder when it comes to mental health? This panel will discuss the latest innovations available to the industry, how mental health can be factored in and predictions for the future of mental health technologies.

Making the case for mindfulness

The evidence for mindfulness meditation on good mental health has been growing and growing over the past few years, but has received some criticism too, due to the mass-commoditisation of the market. However, despite the scepticism, if stripped back to its core components the benefits to your mental health are tenfold. In this session our speaker will articulate the key benefits of mindfulness, how to cut through the noise and how the industry can use these practices to help their clients.

Where next for corporate health insurance?

Corporate health insurance has evolved over the last decade, with continuing technological, economic and societal change driving the demand for more tailored solutions for the workforce. A core emphasis across this year and beyond will need to be a dedicated mental health strategy, increasing workers resilience and a more personalised and closer customer relationship with a keen focus on early intervention. This session will consider the current outlook for the corporate health insurance market and what key changes will have to be made over the coming years.

Putting a stop to suicide through early intervention

The rate of suicides in Britain has risen to it’s highest level since 2002. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show a sharp increase of 11.8% from the previous year, reversing a trend of continuous decline since 2013. Now more than ever, the industry needs to come together to offer a solution for the future. Prevention is better than cure, and early intervention is key and could literally mean the difference between life and death. Hear from a leading figure on the latest suicide statistics, how this affects the life insurance industry and what changes need to be made to ensure that suicide stops becoming an option.

Networking break
Panel discussion: Turning awareness into action

Mental health awareness is at an all-time high, with encouraging conversations being made in the highest of places and successful awareness campaigns striking a chord with many. However, the time for talk is over – action needs to be taken and the industry needs to be at the forefront of change. However, unlike physical illness, mental illness is not as easy to diagnose or assess accurately – so how do we go about successfully treating it? And just as importantly, what can we do to prevent it, thereby allowing people to retain their mental health?

Roshani Hewa, Assistant Director, Head of Protection & Health, Association of British Insurers
Chair: Adam Saville, Editor, COVER

Closing keynote: TBA
Chair's closing summary

Adam Saville, Editor, COVER

Conference close

Please note that this programme is subject to change


Assistant Director, Head of Protection & Health
Association of British Insurers
Alea Risk

2019 Highlights

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