Mental health issues are a growing problem for Singapore, with suicide continuing to be the leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 29 years old in 2019. Mental health illnesses can include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, Schizophrenia and more.
The effects of COVID-19 have only exacerbated the problem. During the circuit breaker period in April and May 2020, calls to the suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) hotline rose 30-35% from a year ago. Experts are also predicting a long-tail effect of COVID-19 on mental health due to rising stress levels with the uncertainty of the pandemic as well as the adverse economic effects we are seeing today.
However, this problem isn’t going ignored and we continue to chip away at the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.
On a positive note, mental health awareness among young Singaporeans appears to be gaining traction, evident from the increase in patients seeking treatment for mental health conditions at public hospitals each year. Insurers are also starting to recognise mental health as a health issue, including coverage for mental health into insurance policies.
Insurers that offer mental health insurance
Beyond Medisave and integrated shield plans, there are mental health insurance plans available that can help to cover the costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of mental health illnesses. This could include doctors’ appointments and therapy treatments.
Did you know? MediSave, MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans can buffer against mental health costs
Currently, Singaporeans who require psychiatric treatments can receive subsidies of up to 80% of their bills at public healthcare institutions.
You can use MediSave for inpatient psychiatric treatment, subject to a withdrawal limit of $150 per day and a maximum of $5,000 a year. MediSave can also be used for outpatient treatment of schizophrenia, major depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Dementia under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) up to $500 per year. This is subject to a 15% co-payment per claim by the patient.
As a complement to MediSave, MediShield Life, a basic health insurance plan to help Singaporeans and PRs pay hospital bills, also covers inpatient psychiatric treatment of $100 per day, up to 35 days per policy year. However, MediShield Life does not cover post-hospitalisation treatment and outpatient treatment.
Most integrated shield plans also cover hospitalisation for psychiatric treatment provided by a psychiatrist. It includes post-hospitalisation psychiatric treatment after you are discharged from the hospital. You can check the integrated shield plan brochure provided by your insurer for the more details.
Supporting those struggling with mental health
One in seven people in Singapore (more than 14%) has experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, with more than three-quarters not seeking any professional help. With or without a mental health insurance plan, your mental health issues should not be left to fester. Here are some resources you can tap on today.
This website mindline.sg, offers resources and tools for mental health, including helplines and counselling by phone, employment support, financial assistance, health and fitness tips and more.
If your mental health has taken a toll due to COVID-19, this website launched by Temasek Foundation called My Mental Health, could be more relevant, providing mental health resources such as online mental health related articles, forums and support groups during this pandemic.