In discussing mental health care rights it is important to distinguish between several populations that these rights address. First, there is the general population in Israel that may encounter acute or ongoing psychological issues, and have rights addressed in the National Health Insurance Law. Another sub-population is considered the “mentally disabled” (nachei nefesh) who have particular rehabilitation rights due to their disorder. The “mentally ill” is another limited group defined by law as suffering from impaired judgment and sense of reality, with particular arrangements regarding treatment and protection of rights.
The following is an overview of rights regarding these three populations with links to sections with more information on the latter two. Some specific psychology related conditions are discussed in other sections.
Universal Rights to Mental Health Care
According to the National Health Insurance Law, all of the rights given to someone who is ill with a non-psychiatric illness are also given to someone afflicted with a psychiatric illness.
Dispute over responsibility
Originally, mental health services were under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. However, the law has been reformed to pass this responsibility on to the health funds. This transition has been under dispute for many years, and as a result, responsibility for mental illness treatments has not yet been arranged between the health funds and the Ministry of Health.
The health basket specifies entitlement to 60 psychological treatments (30 treatments per year for two years) from psychologists, psychiatrists, trained social workers, and other treatment professionals, subject to medical necessity. Currently, fulfillment of this obligation by the health funds varies in the number, type, and co-payment of treatments, as well as the benefits added to supplemental plans. Contact your Kupat Cholim to determine your rights. The Ministry of Health may also be contacted for help.
Rehabilitation for the Mentally Disabled
The Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled in the Community Law refers to the rehabilitation and integration of the mentally disabled in the community while maintaining their dignity. The law defines “rehabilitation” as a process aimed at developing the abilities and skills of the mentally disabled in a community framework in order to guarantee the achievement of the greatest possible level of functional independence and quality of life accompanied by medical oversight, including the receipt of rights in the fields of housing, employment, education and professional training, as well as training in the development of social skills and use of leisure time.
For more information see: Community Rehabilitation of the Mentally Disabled
Treatment of the Mentally Ill
A mentally ill individual is one who suffers from impaired judgment and sense of reality. The Law for Treatment of the Mentally Ill defines the rights of the mentally ill, as well as the measures that can be taken for them, including voluntary or involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital or clinical treatment, and how this applies to minors. This law does not refer to mental disturbances that do not fit this definition of mental illnesses (i.e. personality disorders, delinquency, etc.).
For more information see: Rights and Treatment of the Mentally Ill