As much as it would be nice to pretend that everyone is feeling optimistic about the future of South Africa - a recent article on The Daily Maverick website really drives the point home that South Africans are really struggling to find a light at the end of the tunnel.
Over the past two weeks, Liberty, Discovery Life, Momentum Life and Old Mutual released their claims statistics for 2021, revealing that the four insurers paid consumers a collective R52-billion for the 2021 financial year.
This figure - of R52 billion (R1 billion per week) - is a substantial increase in the number recorded for the year before.
Old Mutual’s whopping total of R21-billion worth of claims paid out was almost 50% higher than the previous year’s total payout of almost R14-billion.
Discovery Life, on the other hand, saw a 173% jump in its life cover claims alone, to a cumulative payout of R6.2-billion. Liberty’s claims payouts increased 59% from 2020 to a total R10.12-billion paid out, while Momentum’s total claims paid in 2021 were 66% up on 2020, at just under R9-billion.
Where is the increase coming from?
Old Mutual saw a 22% increase in suicide claims year on year, while Discovery reported a 55% increase in unnatural deaths and a steady increase in suicide claims since 2015 – with a sharp spike starting in 2020.
Mental health medical claims are on the rise
Discovery Health Medical Scheme reports that 12.5% of claims in 2020 related to mental health conditions, with almost 485,000 scheme members claiming for some form of mental health benefit. Discovery Health does cover up to 12 counselling or therapy sessions for qualifying members.
Liberty saw a spike in mental health claims, particularly among working-age clients 35 to 54. Mental health claims included major depression (45%), schizophrenia (15%), dementia (10%), anxiety, an inability to work and grief.
Therapy can obviously help individuals under these conditions, but what South Africans collectively really need right now is good leadership.
What we need is for somebody - or a few more of us - to stand up and offer a better image of the future than the totally dystopian one that currently gets fed to all of us on a daily basis.
The politicians that we used to turn to for guidance have lost all of their credibility - they're too busy worrying about themselves and their own wellbeing to do an effective job of genuine leadership during times of great uncertainty.
'Where will a future that all South Africans can believe in and work towards together. come from?'
There is no doubt that the depressing trend outlined here will simply continue until an alternative future can be offered to all by somebody with integrity.