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.

City to Open Residence for Women with Mental Illness

Reykjavík.

The Reykjavík City Council has approved the city’s purchase of a property at Hringbraut 79, RÚV reports. The property will be used as residential home for women with mental illness and related issues.

The City of Reykjavík purchased the property for ISK 230 million ($1.84 million/€1.62 million). It currently consists of two apartments, but these will soon be subdivided into seven independent units that will each have their own kitchen space and private bathroom.

The Centre is meant to help women with mental illnesses to lead independent and meaningful lives both at home and in the community by meeting their needs in a holistic and individualised manner. It will be managed by a director and other staff and is scheduled to open this fall.