Malaysian Mental Health Association president Dr Andrew Mohanraj says although there has been some progress, this is limited in terms of courses or sessions.
PETALING JAYA: A psychiatrist has renewed calls for mental healthcare to be covered by insurance companies, saying though there has been some progress, it was still not enough.
Dr Andrew Mohanraj, president of the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA), said three to four insurance companies have agreed to cover mental healthcare, though this was limited to a certain number of courses or sessions.
“Even sessions with clinical psychologists get limited coverage,” he said at the third Convention on Clinical Communications and Hypnotherapy over the weekend.
“We (MMHA) are now in the process of engaging with the insurance industry as well as Bank Negara Malaysia, which regulates the industry, to see how other services and modalities of treatment can be part of the insurance coverage.”
Mohanraj admitted that it was an uphill task but remained hopeful with greater awareness on the importance of mental health.
“We still have a long way to go. However, I hope that with Malaysians’ renewed thinking on the importance of mental health, there will be some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I would not rule out the possibility of hypnotherapy being included in mental healthcare coverage,” he said at the convention, organised by the London College of Clinical Hypnosis Asia (LCCH Asia).
Hypnotherapy, also known as hypnosis, is a trance-like state in which one has heightened focus and concentration. It is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images.
According to the Mayo Clinic in the US, hypnotherapy can be used to help patients gain control over undesired behaviour or to help them cope better with anxiety or pain.
Compassion crucial for patients’ wellbeing
Dr Peter Mabutt, president of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, said it was crucial for healthcare providers to express compassion towards patients, as it would create a positive impact on their wellbeing.
Mabutt cited a 2016 study from the John Hopkins University on 1,700 HIV patients which found that compassion shown by healthcare providers resulted in a 33% increase in their adherence to medications and treatment, and 22% higher chance of having no detectable virus in their blood.
He said if healthcare providers spend more time talking to their patients and empathised with their anxiety, it could even help patients avoid having to undergo more tests and referrals.
“It takes 40 seconds to make a meaningful expression of compassion (with your patients),” said the practicing hypnotherapist and lecturer.