300,000 Belgians take advantage of primary care psychological support

In a significant step towards enhancing mental health accessibility, nearly 300,000 people 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 the numbers on Monday with the launch of a new campaign.

Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke says the initiative has reached the most vulnerable demographics, those under 24 and over 65. To ensure widespread access, costs have been kept minimal. The first session with a conventional psychologist is free, with subsequent sessions costing 11 euros.

Those eligible for increased allowances pay 4 euros and group sessions are available for 2.5 euros. People under 24 now have free access to conventional clinical psychologists.

The National Intermutualist College reports that more than 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 says that waiting times are relatively short, in 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 suffers from psychological problems, but many experience barriers when seeking treatment. RIZIV aims to help people find care in a timely manner.

RIZIV encourages open conversations about stress, anxiety and loneliness and directs people to a dedicated website, which helps them to find mental health networks and professionals.



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