The Pancyprian union of psychologists on Wednesday called on the health minister and the House health committee to push for the inclusion of counselling psychologists to national health scheme Gesy.
A press release sai d the union was “saddened by the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO)’s refusal to add counselling psychologists to the system’s list of specialists,” despite a previous agreement with the Gesy operator to do so a year after the induction of clinical psychologists.
Approving a separate budget for counselling will have long-term benefits, it added, as it would bolster the system’s ability to tackle the many issues caused by mental ill-health.
“The HIO’s philosophy on mental health matters does not identify with the biopsychosocial model of understanding mental health,” the union said, which results in an overly clinical approach to mental health treatment.
Gesy only offers access to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, who focus on the study of mental disorders, and in case of the latter, prescribe medication, whereas counselling psychologists help people address emotional, social, and physical stressors in their lives while in treatment.
According to the union, this makes it difficult to offer services to people with mild depression or anxiety disorders, social and emotional issues, or longterm and terminal illnesses.
“This creates two different types of patient, as the only way for people to access a counselling psychologist is to go private at their own expense, which goes contrary to Gesy’s philosophy”.
The union also claimed that despite promising to begin deliberations on adding counsellors to Gesy, the HIO is now backtracking by saying the offered services are adequate.
“In our experience, and as we have seen from evidence presented by HIO, only a small fraction of the public is being adequately served, despite the fact that more people need mental health services as a result of the pandemic”.
The union finally called on the state, relevant officials and organisations “with a responsibility of protecting public mental health” to act swiftly to resolve the issue.