Supreme Court notices to Centre, IRDA on plea seeking insurance cover for mental...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the central government and Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) on a plea seeking directions to insurance companies to provide medical insurance coverage for treatment of mental illness.

The plea, filed by an advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, stated that insurance companies are refusing to provide such coverage despite a mandate under the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017.

Section 21 (4) of the said act states that “every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness”.

Based on that provision, the IRDA had issued a circular in August 2018 to the insurance companies to comply with the same but to no avail.

The IRDA, however, has not taken any action against insurance companies for such violation, Bansal pointed out.

“The inaction by IRDA is hampering the rehabilitation process of thousands of persons with mental Illness,” the petition said.

A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman sought response from IRDA and central government.

The mental health issue is again being debated after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

“Mental health needs to be addressed as a medical emergency. The shocking thing is that we lose young ones in such scenarios. The maximum number of suicide is happening in adolescence or early adulthood after which comes the old age population. We require a national helpline to prevent these things. We also require a great destigmatising programme of psychiatry. To tell the whole population of destigmatisation, we require a national policy,” said Dr Rajiv Mehta, Vice-Chairperson, Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Sir Gangaram Hospital.

“The fear and the stress at this time of Covid-19 pandemic have exposed the vulnerabilities of all individuals,” said Dr Manushree Gupta, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry VMMC (Vardhman Mahavir Medical College) and Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi.

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