Health insurers focus on mindset: from a stress test to a gratitude diary
For a long time, “prevention” was a dirty word among health insurance companies. “This is not what we are here for,” was the motto. But in recent years, it has become clear that health is more than just having a healthy body. A prolonged depression is just as annoying as a broken leg, to name a few.
Gratitude and hiking
Those who are comfortable in their own skin and feel healthy will be less likely to suffer from physical complaints (and thus less likely to rely on their own health insurance). A tour of the largest insurance companies shows that great effort goes into achieving a positive mindset.
According to this health insurance company’s webpage, “Do you have a more positive attitude towards life? This is how CZ helps.” Suffering from depression? Try keeping a gratitude journal or thought planner, CZ suggests. The insurance company has also developed a “Happy Hike Podcast” with the idea: Walking is good for you. A spokesperson said: “We also offer an online stress test which is very popular.”
For example, the insurance company Just, which is part of CZ, offers the app “App de Coach”. “This means that insured persons can receive low-threshold assistance to maintain their mental fitness, for example if they suffer from depression, insomnia or game addiction,” says the spokesperson. “Users can chat with nurses and refer to the GP if needed. The GP can refer to the GGZ.” In addition, it is possible to make a video call with a coach.
Insurer VGZ also has an app: users can do yoga, mindfulness and meditation exercises via a mindfulness coach. According to VGZ, the app has already been downloaded 1 million times, and not just by customers. “Being comfortable in your own skin. This is our top priority,” the website says.
Menzis and the FBTO are equally committed to mental health, particularly through mindfulness courses. Those with an extra package will even be compensated for this course. Menzis also offers relaxation videos, and FBTO has many stories online about mental health with titles like “Suffering from Insomnia? Fight the Battle” and Vital Tips: Superior Physical and Mental Fitness!
At Zilveren Kruis, there is also a great interest in mental health. For example, she posts articles like “Understanding Each Other Better? Find Out What Love Language You Speak!” and “7 Initiatives to Improve Your Neighborhood”.
Recently, the insurance company also wrote an article about pretending. Whats the statement? “Simply put, pretending is getting things done with your thoughts, by thinking about what you want and then going about it.” The article said. It’s a well-known phenomenon among many (young) people who participate in spirituals, but it stems from the hard thinking of American manufacturing. If you want something hard enough, you will get it.
Remarkably, this philosophy has been carried over to an ordinary Dutch health insurance company. A Silver Cross spokesperson replies: “The article is meant to inspire the theme of relaxation. It can help people with a positive mindset. A positive mindset can contribute to the overall picture of your health.”
There has been a mini media storm on the Internet. Well-known Twitter and Instagram account @tweet (22,000 and 11,000 followers), who wants to fight quackery, puts Zilveren Kruis’ article on the cutting table. “Pretending appears more and more in the idea that you have to want something bad enough to deserve it, and if people are unhealthy or unsuccessful, they don’t want it enough.” Shamadrian writes Adriaan ter Braack is a pseudonym for physicist, mathematician and science journalist.
In his response, he pointed to some mindful coaches who claim that you keep yourself healthy by projecting positive emotions. He thinks it’s dangerous if people really need help. “The obsession with appearance,” writes Ter Brack, “is a drooling ocean of positivity where the atomic core of truth has long since disappeared.” “Zilveren Kruis should have known about this before they became involved as a health insurance company,” says Ter Braack.
A Silver Cross spokesperson says: “We do not present apparitions as a ‘golden egg’. Our article on the subject also states: An apparition is not a magic wand that will make all your wishes come true.” So the course offer is not compensated.
Good, that health insurance companies are now also concerned about our mental well-being are of course very sympathetic. But does this also make sense? Do we really suffer less from physical complaints when our heads are cleared? “It makes sense in a general sense, yes,” says Marianne van Workum, professor of positive organizational psychology at Tilburg University.
Do something nice
Van Woerkom conducts research in positive psychology interventions. This means, among other things, that people have to do small exercises and are then asked about their level of happiness. “For example, we let people keep a gratitude diary, in which they write down each evening what they are grateful for,” says Van Workum. “Or we say people should do something nice for someone else three times a day, which can be a very small thing.”
Research shows that people who use these types of small “interventions” feel better. “You shouldn’t overdo it, in general we see a small impact. But yes, the interventions are also very small and require a very small investment of time. If we help people more to include the interventions in their lives in a structured way the effects could be even greater.”
Build a network
However, the professor is aware that health insurance companies have an interest in mental health, especially because not all health problems can be solved with the same ease. In short: if people had a more positive outlook on life and felt good about themselves, they could handle problems better.
“This also has to do with the fact that you are better at problem-solving and building a social network when you are experiencing positive emotions,” says Van Woerkom. And this can be helpful during periods when you are not feeling well, mentally and/or physically.
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