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.