Having carried out studies taking into account people’s health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cigna has launched its global ‘Check In’ initiative, which is designed to provide support to people managing stress. Tools included within the initiative help both individuals and employers to manage their teams, balance home/ office working and help support and protect wellbeing, including advice on how to cope with stress, how to support children and how to support colleagues.
Global research carried out by Cigna in June as part of the company’s Covid-19 Global Impact Study highlighted that overall wellbeing declined slightly since the first wave of research in April. While April’s research exposed a decline in financial and social wellbeing and a slight improvement in physical, family and work scores, the June research reported that physical scores had dropped back to pre-Covid levels (nearly half – 47 per cent – now say they aren’t getting enough exercise, and only 31 per cent of people say they are getting enough sleep) and that family and work scores continued to decline as the global pandemic stretched on. According to Cigna, these findings reveal that despite efforts to connect with friends, family and colleagues at the beginning of the pandemic, checking in on each other plays a crucial role in health and wellbeing.
“We are now at a critical stage of the pandemic as people try to understand how to best adapt to a changed world. It is essential that we keep checking in with each other so we can support our friends, family and colleagues during this uncertainty,” said Cigna International Markets President Jason Sadler.
Dr Dawn Soo, Head of Clinical and Wellness, Cigna International Markets, explained that ‘levels of disconnection are now increasing’. “We attribute this to ‘Zoom fatigue’,” she said, “as regular calls decline, and concerns increase. We know that stress is a major cause of physical and mental illness and therefore delivering tools to address this is a central part of our mission.”
Cigna’s study also highlights that nearly one-third of people (31 per cent) are now saying they feel disconnected, up from 27 per cent in April, and that 35 per cent of people are now stressed about money, compared to 31 per cent in April.
“These worrying declines demonstrate that we all need to focus our efforts and keep checking in,” said Sadler. “We know that uncertainty creates stress, and human connections help reduce it. Therefore, by working together, we can ensure we emerge from this crisis healthier and more resilient.”
Cigna’s study, which was carried out in partnership with Kantar across China, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the UAE, the UK and the US, was conducted between January and June 2020, and will continue for the remainder of the year.
Over in the UK, Cigna's 'Check In' campaign is being supported by former Special Forces solider and Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins Officer, Ollie Ollerton.
Cigna's study results revealed that in the UK specifically, more than half or respondents (51 per cent) have noticed stress symptoms with a spouse or partner, with mental symptoms (32 per cent) being the main indicator, followed by a loss of interest (25 per cent) and productivity/ concentration and/or physical symptoms (20 per cent).
The study also found that almost half (48 per cent) of Brits feel that they lack companionship, and, worryingly, 56 per cent feel that no one really knows them well; 28 per cent don’t feel that they have people they can talk to; and almost a quarter (24 per cent) don’t feel there are people they can turn to. Twenty per cent of Brits asserted that they do not expect life to ever return to normal.
“Being in lockdown and experiencing isolation for long periods of time can have a negative impact on people’s mental health. When I left the Special Forces, my normal structures and support mechanisms disappeared. That is similar to what is happening at the moment,” said Ollerton. “The unpredictability of the situation can add more stress, which can be scary.”
Arjan Toor, CEO of Cigna Europe, also weighed in. He said: “Covid-19 has changed the world. Change isn’t always good and is one of the biggest causes of stress. This extraordinary experience continues to impact us in ways we might not even realise, and it’s vital that we recognise the psychological impact this can have.
“We have found that checking in with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues has helped stop stress levels from escalating during the crisis.”