The HEALTH : May 2019 - Page 11

MAy, 2019 | The Health ISSUE: MENTAL HEALTH Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj, President of MMHA is optimistic about the future in mental health coverage, as he knows discussions are being made among insurance providers to develop one. Anusha Thavarajah, CEO of AIA Bhd states that mental health is not as clear-cut as other diseases insured, therefore needs significant research and development before having a coverage plan made. mental health And according to her, the insurance companies stated that the demand for mental health coverage among Malaysians are lacking, hence the lack of cover- age for it. The notion will and have been met with scepticism by industry experts. Anita Abu Bakar, President of the Mental Illness Awareness & Support Association (MIASA) shot down the statement by saying that, “It shouldn’t be the case. From what we at MIASA see, the demand is clearly present among Malaysians. The problem is that many Malaysians are not coming forward about their mental health issues because of the stigmas surrounding it.” All is not loss Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj, President of the Malay- Statistics will show you that stress, anxiety disorder, and depression tops the mental health issues in the country.” 11 The support we can actually get now From what we have seen so far, there is a clear gap in the market for mental health coverage in Malaysia, and the insurance companies are keeping their lips shut for the time being. We do however, have some form of financial support in regards to mental health in Malaysia. And it is provided by the Social Security Organisation (PERKESO). Since 2006, PERKESO has put forth the means to compensate employees for depression and stress-related illnesses at the workplace. The guideline of which they operate is the Impairment and Disability Assessment of Traumatic Injuries, Occupational Diseases and Invalidity (second edition). The guideline acts as a way for healthcare providers to assess such disorders relating to mental health in the workplace. PERKESO’s Employment Insurance System (EIS) lets employees who have lost their jobs caused by any invalidity (mental health issues included) to receive allowances while they search for new jobs. This can be utilised by employees who have experience immense stress at the workplace and are in need of a change in workplace culture. Other than that, the Invalidity Scheme and the Pencen Ilat scheme from PERKESO also helps individuals struggling with more severe mental health illnesses and are unable to return to work to receive financial support. Treatment for mental illness are also covered as part of Berjaya SOMPO’s health insurance coverage, but only as part of the in- hospital treatment and would not cover any follow-up therapies thereon. — The Health sian Mental Health Association (MMHA) however, have high hopes and optimism for the future in mental healthcare. “I know that even as we speak, the insurance indus- try is taking into consideration the need to have some form of medical coverage for mental health problems. They just need to work out the details as things are not always clear-cut when it comes to mental health,” says Dr Andrew. Additionally, we actually had the chance to ask the question to Anusha Thavarajah, CEO of AIA Bhd during one of AIA’s recent launch event. This is what she has to say; “It’s not that we don’t want to cover mental health. But mental health is very hard to understand and dif- ficult to diagnose. We want to start looking at it more seriously and work with healthcare professionals to clearly define and quantify it, so that we would be able to come up with the right coverage. We want to make sure that we could create something that is impactful.” This means that there are plans to have mental health coverage be developed here in the country. Only time will tell whether such coverage will truly help support Malaysians facing the insurmountable amount of mental health issues and illnesses now. — The Health