women together facing sun
women together facing sun
26th Aug 2021

This content was produced in partnership with the commercial department of the Financial Times.

Responsive to its customers' mental health needs in the face of the global pandemic, Private Client by Bupa adopts an approach that is both proactive and preventive.

The global pandemic has acted as both a spotlight and a catalyst for change across every part of our lives, focusing attention in equal measures on existing issues and new crises, accelerating changes in public opinion and governmental response.

Covid-19 has brought mental health and wellbeing into particular focus in the UK, where the number of adults with concerns about depression has doubled since the start of the pandemic1. At the end of May, the Office for National Statistics’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey revealed that more than two-thirds of adults in Great Britain reported feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect Covid-19 is having on their life; of those, more than half said that they felt stressed or anxious2. The statistics come as no surprise to Sheldon Kenton, Managing Director for Bupa Global, the international private medical insurance arm of the UK-based healthcare provider Bupa. According to its own in-depth survey of its customers’ health-related attitudes and experiences, the Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index, the pandemic has taken a serious toll on senior business leaders.

“From a business leader perspective, the mental health toll of the pandemic has been high. Our research found that three-quarters of board level executives said that they had experienced poor mental health during the pandemic,” Kenton says. “Eight in 10 have experienced symptoms such as fatigue, lack of motivation, mood swings and disturbed sleep, with triggers including concerns about their business pressures, economic recession, protecting the health of loved ones, coping with reduced personal freedoms and personal financial instability.”

Separate insights by the insurer also found that spending on health and wellness has risen since Covid, with 67 per cent of respondents prioritising their overall wellbeing more than they did before, due to the pandemic. Of those surveyed, 48 per cent reported having been unwell over the last year, either physically or mentally, but had not had time to seek medical help, showing that despite their wealth, these individuals are hard-pressed to find time to invest in their wellbeing. Some 64 per cent believed that they would benefit from having one-to-one assistance to make it easier to organise health appointments and treatments3.

Mental-health organisations such as the charity Mind have warned that the full psychological impact of the pandemic is yet to be known4, Bupa’s Clinical Director for Mental Health, Pablo Vandenabeele, believes that one of the few benefits of the pandemic is that it has resulted in a generational ‘sea-change’ in attitudes to mental health.

“The good news is that we’re seeing a shift in attitudes. Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of board level executives would have seen talking about mental health as a sign of weakness. But now, more than 60 per cent admit that the pandemic had caused them to feel differently,” the psychiatrist explains.

Sheldon Kenton adds: “This bodes well for attitudes at boardroom level, where senior execs are being more open about their own wellness and realigning their expectations as we return to the workplace. At Bupa Global, we believe that mental health and wellbeing is just as important as physical health, and in support of this we have removed both annual and monetary limits across our plans for in-patient and day-patient mental health treatment, and we also now include cover for ADHD, addiction and self-inflicted injuries.”

As part of the evolution of Private Client by Bupa’s services and cover, Kenton and his team have introduced exclusive additions for customers of its Ultimate plan, a concierge-based service that is available to those seeking a more personalised approach.

In keeping with Private Client by Bupa’s unique philosophy, which emphasises a proactive and holistic approach to health and wellbeing, customers of its Ultimate health plan benefit from a range of preventive products and services, such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and chiropractic cover as well as health screening, vaccinations, and eye tests.

“We look at health holistically, and we value mental and physical health equally. For a person to be healthy, both need to work in tandem with each other,” Kenton says. “We are always there if and when our customers become unwell and need our support, but we want them to benefit from the full breadth of services within their cover to enjoy good physical and mental wellbeing before they get to a crisis point.”


2 Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 5 June 2020

3 Bupa Global 2020 Executive Wellbeing Index 


Private Client by Bupa is a premium service providing expertly curated health and wellbeing plans insured by Bupa Global.