A Lebanese Healthcare Milestone: Mental Health Is Now Covered By The Ministry Of Health

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One of the major problems that psychiatry patients in Lebanon face is having their mental health disorders not recognized by any insurance or governmental payment agency, which forces them to foot medical bills that can reach astronomical rates very fast.

There are next to zero insurance companies in the country that cover anything mental health related, even though about a quarter of the Lebanese population can be diagnosed with one mental health disorder or another.

On Friday, as reported by The Daily Star, Minister of Health Ghassan Hasbani announced that his Ministry will now, and for the first time ever in Lebanon, begin to cover mental health under its care plans which are available for all Lebanese citizens.

This isn’t the only accomplishment to be attributed to the Ministry. Hasbani also declared that eight mental health institutes will be created by the ministry for treatment and administration of care, as well as more focused training of professionals in the field.

“The Ministry of Health will begin to cover mental health as part of a comprehensive medical plan, managed by the Primary Health Care Department and supported by the World Bank. We will work on curing it of these issues that can frustrate and cause damage to citizens.”

To say how important such steps are in the Lebanese healthcare sector is not enough. Mental Health has always been considered a taboo in Lebanese society, even if perceptions are ever slowly changing. It hasn’t been a year that we spoke about a young Lebanese girl committing suicide because she had become so clinically depressed and unable to seek help, because such help is not as easy to come by as it should.

This measure by the MoH will save lives, and further improve the level of medical care that we can administer as doctors to our patients in this country, by lessening the fragmentation of care that arises when you have an entire facet of medicine without any form of coverage.

The next step that Minister Hasbani and the ministry should undertake is to reform insurance laws in the country to get insurance companies not to stigmatize mental health, by having them cover it like any normal illness that they’d cover in any circumstance.

I commend the ministry of health for this step, with hope to see more like it from other facets of the Lebanese government. It’s a very important step, and an essential one at that, in our fight against the stigmatization of mental health, as we try to remove it from our long list of Lebanese taboos.

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4 thoughts on “A Lebanese Healthcare Milestone: Mental Health Is Now Covered By The Ministry Of Health

  1. There’s a mental illness called Lebanon, those who live in the country and many of those who’ve left it suffer from this illness. The fact that this post discusses a type of insurance in a country where more than 50% of the population believes it’s a form of gambling and therefore “haram”… The fact that you refer to governMENTAL payments like it’s a normal term we use…. Is symptomatic of the mental illness called Lebanon. My very comment is also that. I don’t know what the solution is (or what the problem is for that matter).

    Reply
    • I agree that Lebanon is a general disease. However, it all depends on your outlook and since we’re surrounded and submerged by disease, maybe our outlook is distorted as well.

      To answer your question,

      The problem I have spent way too much time researching in the archives of my knowledge and experience is Resilience.
      Resilience is a good thing. Same as everything, it is only good in moderation.
      There is too much resilience in the DNA of the Lebanese people, and that is being continuously inherited from one generation to the next.
      Add to that high dosage of resilience an environment corrupted and torn by greed and fear and there you go, your cocktail for a series of mental disorders, which by the way only qualify as disorders when they get out of hand, once the person loses control over their senses (becoming overwhelmed) and actions.
      The solution lies within the deep core of each and every individual. Be the change you want to see. It is difficult but fulfilling.
      Also, think f it this way: Lebanon is ahead of many countries where inter-cultural, inter-religious, inter-political, inter-everything is becoming a heated topic.
      We know how to deal with the consequences of co-existing because it isn’t new to us. it is new to other governments and societies. Think of France, Italy, Spain etc.
      Last but not least, you have probably ran the process of leaving Lebanon to settle somewhere else. I’ve been there too. I’m still here though because the world is changing and it’s changing fast and we are very much ahead in terms of situations and conflicts and security between the inhabitants of this multi-ethnic territory.
      Yes the air and water and roads and everything around is a DISTORTED image of the vision in the mind.
      However remember that over there or abroad is a huge feat. Here at least you have a support system composed of family and friends. Stay where things are familiar until you have the means to survive starting back from absolute scratch.
      Feel free to contact me directly whenever, should your support system fail to quench your anxiety.
      You’re not alone!

      Reply
  2. Taking things back outside the personal, I agree with your comment about resilience onthemoon. I have noticed that too, that as a people, we’re way more resilient than most, regardless of country of residence. We’re so resilient in fact, we think that having the Ministry of Health recognise mental illness as an actual illness is great because now we can be like the rest of the developed world even if as soon as you scratch the surface a tiny bit you realise that in some ways we’re actually behind some African countries in attitudes and approaches. I’m not criticising, I’m just amazed. A mental health policy in a country where some people still shoot guns at weddings and inherit governments and where many people can’t even afford to see a dr for a physical illness…I dunno, the mind boggles.

    Reply
  3. This is not exactly a complaint but I wish there’s an investment to combat the poor living circumstances that affect the people first. The abuse in all of its many aspects and faces; the lack of education and awareness, the cultural stigmas, the governmental extortions, the outdated social standards, pollution…such a list is huge… But a couple of generations ahead, instead of having most of the Lebanese people taking pills, you’d be tackling true problems. Does that make sense or am I dreaming?

    Reply

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