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300,000 Belgians take advantage of primary care psychological support

In a significant step towards enhancing mental health accessibility, nearly 300,000 individuals in Belgium have taken advantage of the primary care psychological support established by recent legislation. The National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (RIZIV) reported these numbers on Monday with the launch of a new campaign.

Affordable care

Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke asserts that the initiative has successfully reached the most vulnerable demographics, those under 24 and over 65. To ensure widespread access, financial barriers have been deliberately kept minimal. The first session with a conventional psychologist is free, with subsequent sessions costing 11 euros. Those eligible for increased allowances contribute 4 euros, and group sessions are available for 2.5 euros. Notably, young people under 24 now have free access to conventional clinical psychologists.

The National Intermutualist College’s intel indicates that over 2 million sessions have been conducted, with approximately one-third involving young people and nearly a quarter linked to those with increased allowances. The majority seeking support are women.

Limiting waiting lists

Vandenbroucke points out that waiting times in this primary care service are relatively short, in stark contrast to existing delays in Flemish mental health centres and certain hospitals. He acknowledges the rising demand and pledges additional funding this year.

At least one in four Belgians suffer from psychological problems in their lives, but many experience barriers when seeking the right treatment. RIZIV aims to help citizens find care in a timely manner to ensure that complaints do not worsen.

RIZIV encourages open conversations about stress, anxiety, and loneliness and directs individuals to a dedicated website, which facilitates the location of mental health networks and professionals in their vicinity. The multifaceted approach aims to create a proactive mental health culture, emphasising prevention over cure.

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