Insurance company Zurich UK is offering free counselling to customers hit by flooding as researchers warn of the devastating impact of extreme weather on mental health.
This announcement comes after parts of the UK have been subject to severe flooding after Storm Christoph brought two months worth of rain in just a few days.
According to academics at the University of York and the National Centre for Social Research, people whose homes are damaged by storms or flooding are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
As the climate crisis intensifies the frequency of severe extreme weather events, Zurich has announced that it will offer free counselling sessions to customers who fall victim.
Under the initiative, existing policyholders who are forced to make a claim will be entitled to five counselling sessions with a qualified mental health expert. The benefit extends to their immediate families over the age of 18.
David Nichols, Zurich UK’s chief claims officer, said: ‘The physical impact of extreme weather is impossible to ignore. But there is reason to be concerned about another, ‘hidden’ consequence of the UK’s increasingly destructive weather – the harm it is doing to people’s mental health.
‘For some victims, the psychological toll of flooding is just as devastating as the disaster itself – with the effects last long after the waters recede.
‘With five million people in England at risk of flooding, and climate change intensifying the frequency and severity of extreme weather, a mental health crisis is looming.
‘We must ensure that mental health – often the silent casualty of flooding – is not forgotten alongside the more immediate priorities to protect people’s lives and property
‘Widespread flooding at this time, could be even more catastrophic for UK communities. With the country still in the grip of COVID-19, tens of thousands of people face the double disaster of flooding overlaid by the pandemic. If ever there was a moment to wake up to the mental, as well as the physical devastation caused by flooding, it is now.’
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