UAE doctors ask insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health issues – News

Lack of coverage forces patients to consult other specialists, which leads to higher costs for insurance companies.



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Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 10:34

Health experts in the United Arab Emirates are calling on insurance companies to provide insurance coverage for mental health issues.

This comes as the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) recently highlighted the features of an application in development known as “Mindspire” during the UAE Innovates event at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The application aims to help people suffering from depression or those who want a preliminary screening of their condition, and helps relieve their symptoms. The app focuses on anonymity and has minimal user intervention.

Dr Shaju George, a psychiatrist at Medeor Hospital in Dubai, believes: “Doctors and mental health professionals have an important role to play in persuading insurance companies to provide insurance coverage to people with mental health problems, regardless of the socio-economic class from which they come.

“Several efforts have been made in the past by doctors to make insurance companies understand that they were losing a lot of money by not covering mental health problems. The non-coverage of these illnesses forces these people to consult other specialists where insurance companies bleed a lot of unnecessary consultations, investigations and medications.

Unlike other medical specialties, a lot of time is spent between the patient and the doctor or therapists. The treatment plan also involves multiple sessions resulting in higher costs.

According to experts, patients whose insurance companies do not cover these costs prefer not to be treated, because the expense adds to their financial burden.

Meanwhile, doctors are also stressing that it is essential to pay attention to early warning signals and address them by speaking to a professional at the right time to handle such situations.

They explain that “difficulty regulating and dealing with difficult emotions, thoughts, and trauma as they arise” could be an incipient sign for a patient to take better care of themselves.

Aster Jubilee Medical Complex, Bur Dubai, Specialist Psychiatrist, Dr Arun Kumar K. says: “The importance of mental health, although widely publicized, is often overlooked. A recent publication by the Lancet-World Psychiatric Association (WPA) commission on depression published a few days ago highlights the reality. An estimated one billion people suffer from mental health problems worldwide, 81% of whom live in middle- and low-income countries. Five percent of the world’s population suffers from depression, making it a major cause of disability and a major contributor to the global burden of disease.

Mental health issues have been stigmatized for ages. Although there have been significant scientific advances regarding the causes of depression and the emergence of effective treatment methods, the knowledge has not yet spread among the population. A large majority still believe that sufferers attract it because they have weak minds or keep thinking negatively or any other theory that has no evidence,” adds Kumar.

Doctors point out that the cause of mental health problems like depression is multifactorial. The presence or absence of a stressor is only one factor. The main factors are biological, psychological and social. Thus, the presentation or warning signs are quite variable depending on the age and background of the person.

Life Coach and Energy Healer in Dubai, Girish Hemnani says, “Help should be sought when the regulation of emotions has started to veer towards strategies such as avoidance, repression, isolation, alcohol, drugs, worry, self-criticism, overthinking, overeating, self-harm. , compulsive behavior and distractions.

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They claim that despite efforts by individuals and organizations regarding the need to address underlying unaddressed mental health, there is still a lot of resistance among people to seek help.

“We cannot ignore the reasons that resist seeking outside help. Living in denial is considered acceptable, not enough encouragement to make a change, unwillingness to take responsibility and accountability, lack of courage to face the truth and fear that it will be crushing. This leads to not prioritizing recognizing and addressing the root cause of mental health. Another big challenge is that many holistic and complementary therapies that actually work are not covered by insurance,” adds Hemnani.

LifeWorks — Holistic Counseling Canter psychologist Ritasha Varsani said, “Physicians’ active engagement with insurance companies to discuss insurance premium reduction will prove beneficial to society as a whole.” People are aware that they need help, but due to the type of treatment, the cost of drugs and the number of therapy sessions, they back off or leave the treatment incomplete due to lack of price.

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