The government is not doing enough to provide mental health services through a solid system, a resolution submitted to the parliament by Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz has claimed.
MP Riyaz, who is also the Vice President of the Maldives National Party (MNP), submitted the resolution on November 1 last year. It was put on the agenda and debates began on Tuesday.
His resolution called on the government to take strong measures to address the serious mental health problem growing in the country and to establish mental health services in Maldives through a solid system.
The resolution said that the government's failure to implement the requirements has made it difficult for the people to get treatment for such diseases and many people are spending most of their lives without relief from their pain and suffering.
It noted that there is no solid framework for mental health services and treatment, and there is no way to provide the service to the population of the Maldives. In addition, MP Riyaz had highlighted that the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has a large waiting list of people seeking treatment for mental illnesses.
The resolution said the government's Strategic Action Plan 2019–2023 also mentions that it will establish a system of quality treatment for people with such ailments. However, there are no results to show for the implementation of the policy, he had said.
MP Riyaz said the government's policies within the action plan did not include assessment mechanisms to identify issues before they became illnesses.
In addition, there is "no self-care" system or programs to treat people who are reluctant to go to clinics and hospitals, he said.
There are few places to treat mental health problems in Maldives, especially in the atolls, MP Riyaz said. He said the difference between the capital and other administrative atolls should be reduced.
MP Riyaz said that mental healthcare professionals can be sought from other countries in the same way that specialist doctors and medical experts are brought in, but noted that it was not the case in the Maldives yet.
One in eight people in the world has a mental health problem, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, there has been no comprehensive study on the extent of mental health issues in the Maldives.
The overall situation in Maldives in the case of mental illness is unknown. However, the WHO's Steps Research on Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases report says that one in five people in Maldives suffer from depression.
The first centre for mental illness in the country opened in March, 2019. Thousands of people have received treatment at the mental health centre opened at IGMH. Since then, a mental health centre has been established at the Hulhumalé Hospital. On December 22, a "National Mental Health Department" was created under the Ministry of Health.
Aasandha services, which is the health insurance scheme provided by the state, expanded the service to include mental health treatments in private facilities on February 1, 2020. Under Aasandha, patients are eligible to receive psychotherapy services for MVR 100 per session. In addition, private institutes charge between MVR 400 and 600 for 30 minutes of therapy as a co-payment.