IPOH: Mental health issues are on the rise and should be covered by insurance companies, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
Proper medical coverage would help those seeking assistance with such issues, he said.
Dr Lee said a wider range of coverage would also help create awareness of mental health problems. “One insurance company in Singapore has started to offer coverage for five different types of mental health illnesses, namely major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“Of course, sometimes mental illnesses are not well defined. “But if companies could start with the five conditions mentioned, it would be good,” he told a press conference after launching the Confucius Teaching Cultural Exhibition organised by Poi Lam High School here yesterday.
Malaysia Psychiatric Association patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye had suggested to the Health Ministry to push for insurance coverage for mental healthcare and treatment.
However, Dr Lee pointed out that insurance coverage was under the purview of Bank Negara and he hoped that the industry would consider the suggestion.
He added that treatment for mental health issues, including consultations with psychiatrists, could be costly. Dr Lee also said the data obtained from the National Health and Morbidity Survey showed a worrying trend of mental health issues among teenagers.
In 2015, mental health problems among those aged 16 and above was at 29.2%, he said.
He added that in 2017, the State of Adolescents Mental Health in Malaysia found that for the age group of 13 to 17, 17.7% of females and 18.9% of males were depressed.
“Also, 42.3% of females and 37.1% of males were anxious, while 10.3% of females and 8.9% of males were stressed,” he said.
Dr Lee said to overcome mental health issues, the ministry had organised various programmes in collaboration with local communities and NGOs.