GoI issues rules to manage Mental Illness amid COVID-19

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines to manage mental illness during COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines will help protect vulnerable patients and frontline health care workers. This is being done to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure and protect patients against psychiatric disorders.

Highlights

The guidelines were issued based on the recommendation of Indian Council of Medical Research. The guidelines stresses upon the importance of sanitization of establishments, training health care workers in waste disposal, physical distancing, usage of personal protective equipment. It also provides rules that addresses the needs of COVID-19 patients suffering from stress and COVID-19 induced depression.

Based on the guidelines, a hotline is to be set up between the mental health establishment and a nearby COVID-19 designated hospital. This will help in easy transfer of facilities.

The guidelines were prepared by the experts from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru.

Insurance

India now covers mental health under its insurance policies. Earlier, in October 2020, the IRDAI made sure there are regular health insurance plans in addition to the existing ones, to help people meet their hospitalization cost arising out of COVID-19. These insurance policies covered stress, neurodegenerative disorders and psychological disorders caused by COVID-19. It will cover expenses of treatment, medical examination and rehabilitation as well.

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 directs the insurers to treat mental illness the same way as that of physical illness or injury.

WHO International Classification of Diseases

Government of India uses this list of International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization to identify mental illness. India provides mental insurance to these lists of diseases.

World Mental Health Day

Every year, October 10 is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. This year on the World Mental Health Day, the WHO highlighted that there is an urgent need to increase funding allocated to mental health services. This is because 93% of countries have halted mental health services worldwide.

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