The following update was contributed by Debbie Burack, a volunteer for The Shira Pransky Project. 

In May 2012 the Deputy Minister of Health, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, signed a government order to establish the Mental Health Reform. Until that date, mental health services were not in the basket of services provided by the kupot cholim (HMOs), and were instead under the direct responsibilities of the Ministry of Health.

On July 1, 2015, this Mental Health Reform officially went into effect. Essentially, the kupot cholim now assume responsibility for all mental health services. This change demonstrates a progressive recognition of the integral connection between health of the body and health of the mind. It also helps to reduce any stigma attached to receiving treatment for mental health conditions.

Click here for general overview of the Mental Health Reform on the Ministry of Health website.

Highlights of the Mental Health Reform:

What?

  • In the same way that physical medical services are provided by your doctors on the kupot cholim, all mental health services are now provided or funded by the kupot cholim.
  • Founded on the judgment of clinical professionals, basic services include:
    • Psychiatric hospitalization services
    • Clinic based services, such as diagnosis, assessment, counseling, crisis intervention, personal, family or group treatment, follow-up and maintenance
    • Day treatment at a clinic

Who?

  • Regardless of age, any resident or citizen of Israel is entitled to receive these services, as per the recommendation of a medical professional. Treatment will be given in accordance with need.

  • If you have already been receiving mental health treatment, you should continue going to the same provider. Private information about your diagnosis and previous treatment will be transferred confidentially to your kupat cholim, with your permission. This is done in order to help your family physician achieve optimal outcomes when treating your total health.

How?

  • Information regarding how to seek and receive mental health treatment is provided by your respective kupat cholim. Either ask your family doctor, or call the moked (call center) of your kupat cholim. This process works the same way even with an individual who is currently in a rehabilitative framework.
  • In the event of mental distress that requires immediate care, you may go to a psychiatric emergency room at no charge, when your family physician or treatment provider is not available. Every mental health center has a 24 hour emergency room, and no referral is needed. You can also proceed to the emergency room of a general hospital, where psychiatric consultants are on duty. 

In order to implement quality control of the professional mental health services provided by the kupot cholim, supervision and monitoring will be conducted by the Mental Health Division of the Ministry of Health. If the kupat cholim is overburdened, there may be a wait period until treatment is received. However, the Ministry of Health plans to oversee that waiting times are reasonable.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about individual rights and specific mental conditions on the Ministry of Health website.

This update was contributed by a volunteer for The Shira Pransky Project. Debbie Burack moved to Israel twenty years ago and has been writing ever since. She writes on a wide array of subjects, with specialties in consumer health education and topics in art and design. For more info and to see her writing portfolio, contact: tothepointdrb@gmail.com.