The Mental Health Act 2017 states that mental health illnesses must be covered by health insurance. After a long wait, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has decided to comply with the provisions of the MHC Act 2017, providing coverage for all mental health illnesses under health insurance policies.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Awareness Day, which just ended, was “Making mental health and well-being a global priority.” Because of this occasion, the aforesaid decision is a watershed moment in the history of mental health. Many people are suffering from major depression, whether they are aware of it or not. Some people are unable to act on it or pursue therapy or medications because they cannot afford it, and this decision is a lifesaver for them.
Proved a good news for people with low income
If we consider the present scenario, we are in the middle of an ongoing mental health epidemic. After the pandemic, mental health issues are increasing worldwide. Almost three out of five people report their struggle with mental health issues. So, the inclusion of mental illnesses under health insurance coverage is a progressive step towards considering mental illnesses at par with physical ailments and thereby ensuring better access to mental health care.
Looking at current research papers on mental health, we can see that the probability of mental disorders is significantly higher in people with a middle or lower
socioeconomic status (SES). This segment of society has the highest level of unemployment, resulting in low earnings, low savings, and less spending on health-related issues. As a result, money is a major concern for these people when seeking help for a mental health issue, because mental health issues typically require prolonged treatment duration, and the treatment is out of reach for people from the middle and lower socioeconomic classes.
Better mental health care to people in need
According to the most recent National Mental Health Survey (NMHS 2015-16) data, people suffering from common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, and substance abuse do not seek necessary treatment due to financial constraints, resulting in a significant treatment gap for these mental disorders. In this context, including mental illnesses in health insurance policies will undoubtedly improve mental health care for those in need.