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Insurers can help expand access to affordable mental health: This is how

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Insurers can help expand access to affordable mental health. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

At some point in our lives, most of us have been affected by mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Regardless of their severity, mental health issues are challenging to deal with.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every four people in Kenya who seek medical attention has a mental health condition.

This translates to 11.5 million Kenyans suffering from mental illnesses. Furthermore, according to the WHO, depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, affecting over 350 million people — more than any other disease.

Read: Mental health at work

Despite the worrying prevalence of mental health conditions, affected individuals and families continue to face the stigma associated with mental illness. This escalates isolation and the feeling of hopelessness, causing many people to deny or hide their condition from others.

The solitude of the mental illness journey causes many to suffer in silence, prompting affected individuals to seek self-medication and drug abuse.

This exacerbates existing conditions, making recovery more difficult. Although much effort has been made in recent years to raise awareness around mental health, much is still needed to support families affected by mental illnesses.

To make the recovery journey more manageable, we must begin to show compassion to those affected and their families.

Information should also be made available on how and where to access mental health services.

Additionally, different health players must urgently come together to provide health solutions that allow people to prevent, treat and manage mental illness.

A majority of Kenyans make out-of-pocket payments to meet their healthcare expenses. In Kenya, healthcare spending pushes almost a million people into poverty every year.

Two out of every five Kenyans are unable to access healthcare when they need it because they cannot afford it.

Collaboration between the public and private sectors will bridge the gaps in healthcare access.

Healthcare stakeholders must prioritise the development of practical and affordable solutions that enable everyone to have access to quality mental healthcare.

Private health insurers, such as Jubilee Insurance, have already designed programmes that provide coverage for mental health services.

Jubilee Health Insurance recently collaborated with Chiromo Hospital Group to launch a comprehensive mental wellness programme that promotes both a preventative and curative approach to wellness.

Read: Eyes on mental wellness during your retirement 

Such partnerships between underwriters and healthcare providers aid the development and implementation of affordable mental wellness solutions that deliver value-based care and outcomes.