Landmark Bill Includes Psychotherapy Under Icelandic Health Insurance

Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, chairman of Viðreisn party

Iceland’s Parliament passed a bill yesterday ensuring psychotherapy will be covered by public health insurance on the same grounds as other health services. Reform Party Chairperson Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir was the primary proponent of the bill, which was introduced by 23 MPs from all sitting parties and unanimously approved. It will take effect in 2021.

In Iceland, one session of psychotherapy can cost around ISK 17,500 ($126/€113). According to Statistics Iceland, around one third of the country’s residents say they cannot afford mental health services. The bill stated that including these services within the public health insurance system would eliminate “unnecessary suffering” while also providing savings for the country in the long term.

The Icelandic Psychological Association celebrated the bill’s passing. “The association has fought for improved access to psychotherapy for decades,” read a statement from the group’s chairman Tryggi Ingason. “The Icelandic Psychological Association believes an important step is being taken to increase the public’s access, regardless of means, to applicable mental health services. With this we are investing in improved public mental health which will benefit the national economy in the long run.”

Icelandic Mental Health Alliance director Grímur Atlason called the new legislation “really important. In recent years it’s been acknowledged that a large part of the nation struggles with some kind of mental health challenge at some point in their life. According to health clinics, it’s about 30% of everyone who visits the clinics.” Grímur told RÚV the move would increase the likelihood that people seek out therapy when they need it.

Song From Eurovision Film in iTunes’ Top Ten

Eurovision film Will Ferrel Rachel McAdams

Power ballad Húsavík, featured in the newly-released Will Ferrel and Rachel McAdams film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is currently the 7th most popular song on iTunes in the US. The song is charting 4th in Ireland, 5th in the UK, and 8th in Australia on the streaming platform. Critics, however, are not as enthusiastic about the movie as listeners are about its music. RÚV reported first.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga follows Icelandic musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (played by Farrel and Adams) as they represent Iceland at the popular song competition. The movie was partially filmed in Húsavík, a town on on Iceland’s north coast.

The Story of Fire Saga has received mixed reviews, with one BBC critic calling it “misjudged and tedious,” and its depiction of Icelanders as “an unsophisticated bunch of beer-drinking, whale-watching, knitted jumper-wearing innocents” as “tiresome and ignorant.” Not all Icelanders agree with the judgement, however. Steinunn Björk Bragadóttir sits on the board of Iceland’s official Eurovision fan club OGAE. “I found it very funny and it showed how we Icelanders are so occupied with appearing cooler than we are,” she stated in an interview. “But we’re just a bunch of people in lopapeysur who want to hear Nína at the bar and nothing else will do.”