The Health | MAy, 2019
issue: mental health
ISSUE: MENTAL HEALTH
Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz, Founder of MHF sees no
reason why mental illnesses are treated differently
by insurance companies than any other types of
Dr Sangeeta Kaur, Organising Chairman of MHEC
2019 says that the insurance providers she spoke to
stated that the demand for mental health coverage
is lacking in Malaysia.
Anita Abu Bakar, President of MIASA says that the
demand is definitely present, but people are not
coming forward because of stigma.
The support we need in
Insurance coverage are seldom thought about when it
comes to mental health issues. It should, because we are not
supported by insurance for the time being
t is to no surprise that the mental wellbeing
of many Malaysians are becoming poorer in
recent times. Statistics will show you that
stress, anxiety disorder, and depression tops
the mental health issues in the country.
And although the awareness for mental
health and wellbeing are seen to somewhat improve
over the decade, stigmas surrounding the varied
mental health issues we face are ever-present in
Stigma, lack of awareness, and unhealthy work-
place/education culture are seen as main factors
contributing to mental health issues among Malay-
sians. Yet there is one factor in the equation we seldom
The lack of support from insurance providers.
Discrimination or disqualification?
We are sure that as an individual working in a company
or handling a business of your own, you have some
form of health insurance. And that health insurance
would cover the costs of the myriads of accidents and
diseases you could be facing.
However, when you have an anxiety disorder, or
clinical depression, or even work-related stress leading
to burnout – there is no coverage for you from any
type of insurance schemes here in Malaysia.
Do the insurance providers discriminate against
mental health issues and illnesses? Or are mental
health issues and illnesses on their own, are disquali-
fied as being ‘real’ illnesses?
We outright reject the notion of the latter, because
mental health issues ARE serious. They affect the mind
as well as the physical parts of our bodies.
Hesitation by the providers
We have reached out to many of the insurance pro-
viders providing health insurance here in Malaysia.
Only a handful actually replied to us when we asked
whether they have some form of health insurance that
covers mental health issues or illnesses.
Here is the email reply we received from Hong
“Thank you for reaching out to
Hong Leong Assurance.
At the moment, we do not have comments on this
issue. Nevertheless, do keep in touch with us.”
And another one from Zurich Malaysia;
“Thank you for your enquiry. Unfortunately
we would not be able to assist you on your article
for this round.”
It is slightly peculiar that they seem hesitant to
speak outright about mental health coverage. The
responds we received made it look like speaking about
mental health coverage is somewhat taboo.
There is however, a couple who seemed to be more
open in replying to our enquiry. Below is a reply from
“We do not have a solution that caters to
mental health, but we will be making a media
announcement on something that we are
They didn’t say however, whether they what they
are launching has anything to do with mental health
The last company to reply to us was AIA, a company
that has been more forward in workplace stress than
any other in the country. One of the writers in our
team asked whether we can have an interview to
discuss the coverage for mental health issues.
Below is what they replied;
“We’ve checked with the team and would like to
suggest if we can angle the interview to focus on
AIA’s brand promise of “healthier, longer, better
lives” instead, which reflects their interest and
concern towards the wellbeing of Malaysian in
a more holistic manner. This includes their past
and current initiatives such as AIA Vitality pro-
gramme and Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace.”
It seems that AIA is at least working towards pro-
moting better workplace culture to relieve stress and
prevent mental health issues, however there is still
no clear-cut coverage for mental health issues and
illnesses for Malaysians.
Singapore has coverage
It is somewhat funny that AIA Malaysia are not pro-
viding for Malaysia, as they have recently announced
insurance coverage for mental illnesses in Singapore
earlier this year.
Below are the types of mental illnesses covered by
AIA Singapore under their Beyond Critical Care plan;
• Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
• Bipolar Disorder
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Tourette Syndrome (up to age 21)
Conversation is stirring
We’ve talked to a few experts in the industry about this
issue and it seems that they are agreeing in unison.
There is no support for mental health in terms of insur-
Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Abdullah, founder of the
Mental Health Foundation and a veteran psychiatrist
speaks about the unfortunate discrimination towards
people facing mental illnesses by insurance providers.
“Mental health issues, ranging from the milder to
the more severe are all life problems. And therefore
industries, be it insurance, or the community must be
involved. Why do they have to exclude certain types of
illnesses? I don’t see the reason why individuals with
mental illnesses should be discriminated against.”
We have also went for a pre-launch event for the
Mental Health Experiential Conference (MHEC
2019) happening in 18 to 20 June this year in Petal-
ing Jaya. Dr Sangeeta Kaur, Organising Chairman
of MHEC 2019 and a licensed counselor with The
Board of Counselors Malaysia says that she had also
approached insurance companies regarding mental
health coverage in Malaysia.