One Third of MPs Want Subsidies for Mental Health Services Skip to content
Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir
Photo: Golli.

One Third of MPs Want Subsidies for Mental Health Services

Over 20 MPs are working on a bill which proposes psychological services be covered by public health insurance, Vísir reports. The National University Hopital’s Director of Mental Health Services called the move “ideal and something that should have happened a long time ago.” The bill is supported by MPs across the political spectrum and nearly all sitting parties.

Unlike other healthcare services, psychological services in Iceland are primarily offered by independent psychologists. When it comes to accessing the services, patients generally receive no financial support. According to its draft, one of the bill’s main objectives is to ensure access to psychological services for individuals.

María Einisdóttir, director of mental health services at the National University Hospital, hopes the bill will help individuals access services before their situation has become critical. “When people come to my ward, which is so-called tertiary service, you often think how it would have been better if it had been acted upon earlier,” María stated. “We need psychologists in school, in healthcare centres, and near people, not just in hospitals, we need psychologists in prevention.”

Recognising the value of psychotherapy

Pétur Maack Thorsteinnson, head psychologist at the Healthcare Institution of North Iceland, says the bill acknowledges the value and importance of evidence-based psychotherapy. “This will hopefully improve access to psychologists who are self-employed outside the [public] healthcare system,” Pétur stated. “In principle, it is very important that all patients have the opportunity to access psychological services, not just those who are better off in our society.”

Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, chairperson of the Reform Party, is one of the MPs who has rallied others to support the proposal. “It should be equivalent to seek medical treatment whether it’s for mental illness or physical,” she stated. “That’s why we want to incorporate psychological services into the public healthcare system.”

Cost analysis for the proposal has not yet been carried out. The bill’s sponsors, however, consider the macroeconomic benefits of investing in preventative services in mental health to be evident. Iceland’s Director of Health Alma D. Möller and Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir both expressed support for the bill.

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