Mental Healthcare Neglected

Mental Healthcare NeglectedMental Healthcare Neglected

The last national survey on prevalence of mental illnesses conducted in 2011 indicated that 23.6% of Iranians aged between 15 and 64 years suffered from various types of mental disorders, among whom 12.7% had depression.

This was stated by Health Minister Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, on the sidelines of the 33rd Annual Congress of Iranian Psychiatric Association October 18-21, at Tehran’s Milad Tower International Conference Center.

Many people with severe mental illnesses also are often not able to recognize or accept that they are mentally ill.

Hashemi also pointed to the lack of psychiatry beds and said, “We need at least 40,000 beds, from the present 10,000 beds.” During the next 2-3 weeks, 1000 new beds will be unveiled in different psychiatry hospitals across the country, he assured.   

“Training in thinking skills in schools and improving self-awareness among students can reduce the incidence of psychiatric disorders in the community,” said Dr Ahmad Jalili, head of the congress, local media reported.

The slogan of this year’s event was ‘Psychological First Aid.’

“Inadequate access to mental healthcare in Iran is a major problem and the main culprit is inadequate (or even lack of) insurance coverage for mental disorders.”

“Complementary health insurance covers expensive surgeries, but there is no insurance plan to cover even the simplest of treatments in mental disorders,” Jalili noted.

  Insurance Inadequate

According to Mahdi Tehrandoust, head of Rouzbeh Psychiatry Hospital, insurance organizations don’t pay for hospitalization stay longer than two months (56 days) in psychiatry hospitals.

“However, a patient with a moderate to severe mental disorder like schizophrenia needs to be hospitalized for at least two or three times a year (depending on how often the symptoms flare up). It is obvious that not all patients can afford to pay out of their pockets.

“A psychiatric hospital ensures that people with severe mental illnesses receive their required medications on a regular basis. The psychiatry hospitals also provide access to important services like social and therapeutic support. These services can be hard to find in the community,” Tehrandoust pointed out.

He regretted that many people couldn’t afford hospitalization due to inadequate insurance coverage and high costs.

Experts from the UK, Belgium and Australia attended the congress. A total of 70 articles were received by the congress secretariat, of which 18 were presented.

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