Mumbai, March 2019: Research suggests that 1 in 4 people in India deal with some form of mental illness during their life time. Unfortunately, this aggravating problem receives little attention, particularly due to low levels of awareness and the deep-rooted stigma that exists in our society.
On this World Health Day, Poddar Foundation, a leading institution working in the field of mental health, is organizing a one-of-its-kind conference to generate awareness about the importance of mental health insurance. As part of the Foundations flagship program, Silence Todo, a conference called Insure Your Mental Health has been organized. The aim is to bring together experts and stakeholders of the field to discuss multiple perspectives and shed light on the importance of covering mental illnesses in Health Insurance and Employee Assistance Programs.
Dr Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation says, This is highly important. Unfortunately, our society fails to take mental illnesses as a matter of serious concern. Very few understand the financial and emotional burden on a family when a member is dealing with a mental illness. Additionally, seeking treatment is extremely expensive. Poddar Foundation will try to leave no stone unturned to ensure that decision-makers work towards a collaborative solution to overcome these problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the cost of mental illness to amount to 6 billion dollars by 2030. However, as a country, we have mainly focused on Life Insurance, failing to understand the importance of health coverage, especially that of mental health. Research suggests that 86 percent of the rural population and 82 percent of the urban are not covered by health insurance in India. Notably, most health insurers hitherto did not even cover mental illnesses in their health plans. However, with the passing of the Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017, the IRDAI has issued a mandate asking insurance providers to include mental illness in their bouquet of services.
This has been considered to be a welcome move by many but no steps have been taken to ensure the implementation of the mandate. This conference will be an open forum to discuss the obstacles and the way forward to successfully enforce the aforementioned provision.
We not only need insurance providers to offer health plans that cover mental illnesses but we also need them to do so without any steep rise in premium costs and without any significant exclusions. Through this conference, we are bringing together various stakeholders to start an important dialogue. We would like to see a large number of people- students, parents, mental health professionals, insurance brokers and corporate companies to participate in this conference and raise important questions about their rights as citizens, adds Dr. Prakriti.
The conference will include panel discussions and a Q&A session with the audience. A white paper will be produced post the event to aid the policy integration. It will also highlight the need for corporate EAP programs to provide services and benefits to ensure the mental well-being of their employees.
Major participants in the conference will include Congress leader Mr. Milind Deora; Lt. Gen. (Dr.) V. Ravishankar, COO- Lilavati Hospital; Dr. Kersi Chavda, Psychiatrist and Consultant to Hinduja National Hospital; Mrs. Rani Poddar, Head of Puncham Socio-Charitable Ladies Organisation; Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, Wockhardt Foundation; Mrs. Rajyalakshmi Rao, Advisory Board Member, IRDAI; Mr. Suresh Mathur, Executive Director, IRDAI and Mr. Shri Dinesh Pant, Appointed Actuary, LIC, among others.
The conference will be held on April 6, 2019 (Saturday) at the Indian Merchants Chamber, Churchgate, from 10 am to 1 pm.