Why financial, mental and physical health are interlinked

Sun Life to launch new programme aimed at reducing health risks and improving clients’ money plans

Why financial, mental and physical health are interlinked

Mental, physical and financial health could the new holy trinity of wellness – and Sun Life Financial Inc is determined to harness their interconnected benefits.

The firm (TSX:SLF and NYSE:SLF) wants to help its Canadian clients put their health first through a personalized programme called BestLifeRewarded.

A first of its kind in this country, whether a person’s goal is to attend yoga twice a week or top up their RRSP, the platform tracks, measures and rewards positive steps to reduce health risks and live a healthier life.

Jennifer Elia, assistant vice president, integrated health solutions at Sun Life, said studies show the positive knock-on impact of each area and stressed that the programme is evidence-based.

She said: “We know that health is holistic and the three are so interconnected when it comes to mental, physical and financial health.

“We thought if we could bring a tool to employees and work places that allow people to not only acknowledge the connection between the industry but also make it specific and personalized, the benefit on each of the three areas would have positive effects spill over into the other two.

“There’s a lot of evidence that shows the impact of financial weakness on our wellness and overall physical and mental health, and even the impact of chronic disease.”

She said that if you are stressed about money, studies have shown this can lead to an increase in concerns around cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The programme includes: a personalized action plan that sets clients on the right path to improve their overall financial, physical and mental health; the ability to track wellness activities, including nutrition, sleep patterns and financial well-being; online courses, articles and tips to help clients on their customized journey; nudges and reminders for healthy behaviours such as staying active, drinking more water, and staying on track with monthly budgets; and contests and challenges designed to earn points towards rewards from Canada’s top retailers.

Elia said physical activity also puts people in a better state of mind to tackle some of the money issues they may have been putting off.

She said: “It’s about having the energy and the frame of mind to be able to tackle financial concerns. Canadians have all kinds of concerns – whether it’s simple know-how to prepare a budget or whether it is managing their debt load, those concerns can feel quite daunting for someone who is not in a good state mentally.

“It’s about having the capacity to take on some concepts that might be new, might be complex and really develop an action place that is going to help that person achieve their goals.”